Dr. Christy Layton, chief of staff at Timberlane Pet Hospital & Resort in Plant City.

There has been much speculation as to whether or not our pets can get COVID-19. According to Dr. Christy Layton, chief of staff at Timberlane Pet Hospital & Resort in Plant City, they can become infected with COVID-19 from us.

“Yes, they can, but the numbers of animals that have become symptomatic for the disease after being exposed by a known human positive case are extremely low,” Dr. Layton said. “Therefore, if you test positive, you should try to isolate yourself from your animals if at all possible, but understand that the risk of you passing it onto your furry friend is very low. According to current research, it is even less likely that a human can get SAR-CoV-2 from a dog or cat.”

There have been fewer than 25 reports from around the world of pets (dogs and cats) being infected with SARS-CoV-2; however, none of these reports suggest that pets are a source of infection for people. Evidence to date from the few domestic animals that have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 indicate these infections are typically a result of close contact with people who have COVID-19.

In laboratory studies of experimental infection with SARS-CoV-2, ferrets, Syrian hamsters and cats—all animals that may be kept as pets—show potential for serving as animal models of human infection, but dogs, pigs, chickens and ducks do not. There is little to no evidence that domestic animals are easily infected with SARS-CoV-2 under natural conditions and no evidence to date that they transmit the virus to people.

Pets are tested the same way humans are tested for COVID-19.

“While testing is very limited at this time, the testing of animals uses the same techniques as those used for humans,” Dr. Layton said. “The tests are currently only being used on animals with clinical signs of COVID-19 and with a known exposure to a positive human. To date, around 60 dogs and cats have tested positive in the U.S. for SAR-CoV-2, which is a very low number when you think about the numbers of COVID-19 positive human cases and the numbers of dogs and cats that are living with us in the U.S.”

If your pet becomes infected with the virus, you should follow the same procedure as if it was a human that became infected.

“Animals are treated similar to how humans are treated,” Dr. Layton said. “They are treated based on their clinical signs, which is often a respiratory illness, and the severity of their disease. They may be treated at home with symptomatic care or may need to be hospitalized in ICU for a period of time with fluid therapy, nebulization and IV medications, depending [on] the severity of their clinical signs.”

If you would like to know more about Timberlane Pet Hospital & Resort and the services offered by Dr. Layton and her staff, visit www.timberlanevet.com or call 754-7387. The office is located at 1704 Walden Village Ct. in Plant City.

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Libby is a writer for The Osprey Observer/The Christian Voice. She started as an intern in 2009 and upon finishing her internship, she was asked to stay on as a permanent writer for both papers. Libby lives in Brandon with her two rescue dogs, Olive and Bogey.