Dr Innis Cloete: COVID-19 and pets

Thursday, March 12, 2020 3:36 pm
Reading Time: 2 minutes


Dr Innis Cloete from Kingsway Veterinary Centre joins Jeziel in the studio each week to chat all things pets. He’s an expert on any creature, whether it swims, flies, slithers or flaps.


This week we just had to tackle the hottest topic of all. Of course, coronavirus. There’s been a lot of chatter about whether our pets are susceptible to the virus, and Innis was able to clear a lot up.

Does coronavirus even affect animals?

While most of the news has been referring to this disease simply as coronavirus, it’s actually more complex than that. Coronaviruses are actually a whole family of diseases. SARS, MERS and more are all coronaviruses, hence the renaming as COVID-19. So, with that in mind, things get clearer, yet also a bit more confusing. The short answer is that there are a lot of different coronaviruses. and some of them affect species that others don’t, and some affect different species in different ways. For example, cats have their own type of coronavirus, that causes diarrhea in kittens, and respiratory issues in adult cats. However, this coronavirus isn’t transferable to humans. So, at this point in time, it’s actually not likely that the human strain of COVID-19 will infect your pets.

What about those reports of animals that tested positive?

While reports right now are a bit sketchy, for the most part they seem to be false, or at least misleading. The most common explanation is that the virus is fairly resilient, and can be picked up on a test, even if it’s not actually infecting the host. So, as Innis says, if you do have the illness, you can give your dog a big kiss, do a COVID-19 test, and the dog may test positive. But the dog won’t be infected with it, the test has simply picked up the cells that the dog has picked up from you.

So are the animal strains of coronavirus as new as the new human strain?

Not at all, scientists and vets have been observing these illnesses in animals for hundreds of years. It’s just that modern technology has enabled researchers to more accurately categorise the diseases.

For all of Innis’s tips and wisdom, check out the podcast below:

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