Chris Troughton is clinical director of Heath Vets. He’s here to answer all your pet questions
Can animals catch and/or transmit Coronavirus?
A very small number of pet cats and an even smaller number of pet dogs have been found to be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus worldwide since the pandemic began. All of these animals came from homes where there had been human cases. Almost all showed mild signs of respiratory illness and very few have died as a result.
There have been no reports of people being infected through contact with an infected pet. However, pets can act as ‘fomites’, whereby their coats become contaminated by contact with an infected person and then pass it on to another person who touches them. With this in mind, it is wise to avoid close contact with pets that are not your own.
My cat often gets into scraps and sometimes comes home with a graze or a cut here and there. He always licks any wounds himself and I’ve always been told that saliva helps prevent an infection but I can’t help think that infection is always a concern. How worried should I be?
The old wives’ tale of the powers of saliva to prevent infection persists! The oral cavity is one of the most contaminated sites of the body, whether it be cat, dog or human and there is no beneficial effect of licking a wound other than to remove gross contamination and dirt.
Any occasion where you suspect your cat has been fighting should be taken seriously. Cuts and grazes should be cleaned with a mild antiseptic safe for cats (not TCP which is toxic to cats), and he should be discouraged from licking them.
If there are any puncture wounds – ie. penetrating bites – veterinary attention should be sought at the earliest opportunity, as these frequently become infected and cause abscesses or cellulitis.
How are Heath Vets coping with pets’ vaccinations throughout the pandemic?
During the first lockdown, we were only able to provide emergency and urgent treatment, so all vaccinations were out of the question. As the rules relaxed, we were able to restart both puppy and kitten vaccinations and also annual booster vaccinations.
With the second lockdown, the restrictions have returned but not quite as severe. We are able to do vaccinations where to not give them would harm animal welfare. It is very important that puppies are able to go out for walks safely as soon as possible because to keep them isolated indoors will cause many serious behavioural problems. To take them out before they have had their vaccination course puts them at risk of contracting serious infectious diseases – so puppy vaccinations are ok.
On the other hand, it is not so important for kittens to socialise and experience the outside world at an early stage so they will not be harmed by staying indoors – so we don’t do these.
Older pets do need their vaccinations to remain safe, and once they have had the first annual booster, the effectiveness of the vaccine lasts a bit more than a year. So for pets needing their first annual booster (ie. when they are about 15 months old), we are giving these on time.
For older pets, we are delaying the booster vaccinations by up to 3 months. If delayed more than this, the primary 2-dose course has to be repeated. It’s a bit complicated, and guidance is liable to change, so if your pet is due for a vaccination, it’s easiest to phone us to see what we recommend.
02920 621 511
123-5 Heol-y-Deri, Rhiwbina,
Cardiff CF14 6UH