Westies and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

With all the news we get everyday about the coronavirus, one question popped up over and over for all westie owners (and pet owners in general):

Can my Westie get coronavirus?

In short: not really, but still under research.

Here is what is known for the moment:

While dogs can get specific types of coronavirus (canine respiratory coronavirus), there’s no evidence that our westies are threatened by COVID-19.

It’s true. though, that some dogs in Hong Kong tested positive for the virus, but here’s what their Government spokesman had to say about it:

These findings indicate that dogs and cats are not infected easily with this virus, and there is no evidence that they play a role in the spread of the virus. Nevertheless, as COVID-19 is a newly emerged disease and the situation is still evolving, the AFCD is taking a precautionary approach in quarantining animals (mammals, including cats and dogs) from households with confirmed COVID-19 human cases.

     The spokesman reminded pet owners to adopt good hygiene practices (including hand washing before and after being around or handling animals, their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing them) and to maintain a clean and hygienic household environment. People who are sick should restrict contacting animals. If there are any changes in the health condition of the pets, advice from a veterinarian should be sought as soon as possible. There is currently no evidence that pet animals become sick and under no circumstances should they abandon their pets.

Hong Kong Government Press Release

It’s also important to notice that it seems the virus got transmitted from the humans to dogs, not the other way around. Moreover, the dogs, while testing positive, didn’t show any signs of the illness.

Can Westies spread COVID-19?

The World Health Organization has a section specifically regarding dogs on their website:

Can I catch COVID-19 from my pet?

Several dogs and cats (domestic cats and a tiger) in contact with infected humans have tested positive for COVID-19. In addition, ferrets appear to be susceptible to the infection. In experimental conditions, both cats and ferrets were able to transmit infection to other animals of the same species, but there is no evidence that these animals can transmit the disease to human and play a role in spreading COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.

It is still recommended that people who are sick with COVID-19 and people who are at risk limit contact with companion and other animals. When handling and caring for animals, basic hygiene measures should always be implemented. This includes hand washing after handling animals, their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing, licking or sharing food.

More recommendations are available on the OIE website: 

https://www.oie.int/en/scientific-expertise/specific-information-and-recommendations/questions-and-answers-on-2019novel-coronavirus/

World Health Organization Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)

Can you still pet your westie?

I really don’t want to give you the wrong answer, so here’s an excerpt from an article in Washington Post about this:

Given the unknowns about the disease, experts recommend that people infected with the coronavirus stay away from pets, as they should from people. So the most conservative approach would be to refrain from touching others’ dogs, because its owner could be asymptomatic.

But based on available evidence, there’s little reason to avoid petting, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. (If practicing social distancing, make sure the owner is on the other end of a leash at least six feet long.)

“We’re not overly concerned about people contracting covid-19 through contact with dogs and cats,” said Gail Golab, the AVMA’s chief veterinary officer.

Environmental contamination via surfaces appears to be a secondary route of transmission, and “the virus survives best on smooth surfaces, such as countertops and doorknobs,” Golab said. “Porous materials, such as pet fur, tend to absorb and trap pathogens, making it harder to contract them through touch.”

How to pet dogs during the coronavirus pandemic – Washington Post

Obviously, since I’m a happy owner of a Westie (our Sami), I will pay attention to everything I can find, so come and check this from time to time, in case anything changes. But, for the moment, it seems you and you Westie pup can enjoy the longer time you have together during quarantine. And, maybe, as it happens in some countries, he/she might be your ticket to some freedom of movement every day.

As main source for this article, we used the expert advice published on the American Kennel Club website.

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Westie smiles, games and our first pictures with Sami