Why Cats and Dogs Might Need Their Own COVID Vaccine

The coronavirus has impacted pet owners in some very profound ways. The highly contagious disease has even been found in animals. Some studies suggest that dogs and cats may need their own Covid-19 vaccines. Several zoo animals have tested positive for the virus from early in the first known cases throughout the USA and the world at large. It is believed that the time is coming when dogs and cats will also need to be protected from the illness through vaccination

The evolution of the virus

According to Live Science, we may be approaching the time when the coronavirus will evolve further and infect dogs and cats, then mutate to become communicable to their pet parents. Dogs and cats are not the only animals that have been confirmed to have the disease. Reports are rare, but infections of this insidious disease do occur in dogs, cats, tigers, gorillas, and minks. While researchers and analysts do not believe that animals will pose a serious super-spreading impact, it’s something that the CDC is keeping its eye on. This is not believed to be a current risk, but it could become a serious issue down the road. Viruses have the potential to evolve within one species and then mutate in a way that allows animals to become carriers that spread the disease to human populations. This could in turn lead to the creation of a new virus that is related to the original with the potential for starting a new pandemic.

Why the vaccine could be important

Although the chances of an animal-specific mutation that converts back to humans are not highly likely, the CDC cannot discount the possibility of it happening. There is not currently a call to action at this point, but it is an idea that researchers and communicable disease experts are keeping in the back of their minds. We’re not currently seeing any sign of this happening. So far, the focus is on human vaccines and the USDA has not approved any measures or efforts to research vaccines for pets. There is no data to support the necessity or to indicate that there would be any value in creating such a vaccine. Although research can be conducted and vaccines may be developed, they must have a license to distribute and sell them. So far, the USDA has not granted these permissions for dogs and cats.

Some animals are spreading Covid-19 to humans

Minks are a different story. Confirmation of minks carrying the disease, then spreading it to humans has been reported by the USDA. The agency has granted license applications to distribute Covid-19 vaccines for these animals because of the confirmed risk that they pose to humans. Efforts in the United States and Russia are currently underway to develop such a vaccine. This is a situation that will be closely monitored shortly.

What the CDC has to say

According to the Center for Disease Control, there are some forms of coronavirus that infect animals that can be transmitted back to people, but the incidences are extremely rare. The virus is most commonly spread from one person to another. The CDC further reports that there is no hard evidence that animals are a significant cause of the transmission of Covide-19 in people. The risk of this happening is believed to be low, but they do further state that there are more studies needed to understand by the virus affects a variety of different animals.

Can people spread Covid-19 to pets?

A tiger at the New York zoo tested positive for Covid-19. This shows evidence that the virus can be spread to animals by people. Close contact with an infected person can result in certain animals contracting the disease. This suggests that people who are diagnosed with Covid-19 should take extra precautions to keep their animals safe from getting the virus. The agency further acknowledges that cats and dogs can get the viruses from people, but, their greatest concern is with mink populations that have shown a high likelihood of spreading the disease to people. Also, there have been reported cases of ferrets becoming infected with Covid-19 as a result of contact with humans, as well as snow leopards, tigers, and gorillas. It is believed that infected workers spread the illness to minks on farms and to animals housed in zoos throughout the world. It is becoming necessary to take preventative measures to help protect both animals and humans from contracting the illness. The CDC continues to monitor the issue. Analysts synthesize information of all reported cases of human to pet transmission and vice versa. So far, the evidence suggests that animals are at risk of becoming infected by humans carrying the coronavirus.

Final thoughts

Although we’re not there just yet, there is a possibility that in time, cats and dogs will need to be vaccinated against covid-19. Development of veterinary vaccines is currently underway for minks, which are at significant risk for contracting the illness. However, the USDA has not yet approved licensing for the vaccine for dogs and cats. The risk for serious super spreader events occurring from animals to humans is low. The CDC continues to monitor the situation because of the slight chance of viral mutations that could open up a new can of worms. We all hope that this never happens, but with an insidious virus that we don’t know enough about yet at the pandemic stage, anything can happen. Health officials are taking it slowly and not pushing any false alarm buttons. At the same time, they keep an eye out for any unexpected mutations that could cause the development of a new related virus that moves through the animal population to humans and vice versa. We’re okay for now, but we must take extra care to protect our beloved pets from exposure to the Covid-19 virus until more is known.

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