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Can dogs and cats recognize human sneezing?

Can dogs and cats recognize human sneezing?



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I recently noticed that my kitten gets startled by all manor of loud noises, with the only exception I've noticed being the sound of me sneezing. My sneezes are by no means quiet, so I began wondering if it wasn't fazed by the sound of me sneezing because it instinctually recognized it for what it was? I've seen dogs and cats sneezing before so I was curios if it simply made the connection and wasn't fazed by it, Googling didn't turn up anything useful on the subject.


Toxocariasis FAQs

Toxocariasis is an infection transmitted from animals to humans (zoonosis) caused by the parasitic roundworms commonly found in the intestine of dogs (Toxocara canis) and cats (T. cati).

Who is at risk for toxocariasis?

Anyone can become infected with Toxocara. Young children and owners of dogs or cats have a higher chance of becoming infected.

Approximately 5% of the U.S. population has antibodies to Toxocara. This suggests that tens of millions of Americans may have been exposed to the Toxocara parasite.

How can I get toxocariasis?

Dogs and cats that are infected with Toxocara can shed Toxocara eggs in their feces. Adults and children can become infected by accidentally swallowing dirt that has been contaminated with dog or cat feces that contain infectious Toxocara eggs. Although it is rare, people can also become infected from eating undercooked meat containing Toxocara larvae.

What are the clinical manifestations of toxocariasis?

Many people who are infected with Toxocara do not have symptoms and do not ever get sick. Some people may get sick from the infection and may develop the following:

  • Ocular toxocariasis: Ocular toxocariasis occurs when Toxocara larvae migrate to the eye. Symptoms and signs of ocular toxocariasis include vision loss, eye inflammation or damage to the retina. Typically, only one eye is affected.
  • Visceral toxocariasis: Visceral toxocariasis occurs when Toxocara larvae migrate to various body organs, such as the liver or central nervous system. Symptoms of visceral toxocariasis include fever, fatigue, coughing, wheezing, or abdominal pain.

How serious is infection with Toxocara?

In most cases, Toxocara infections are not serious, and many people, especially adults infected by a small number of larvae (immature worms), may not notice any symptoms. The most severe cases are rare, but are more likely to occur in young children, who often play in dirt, or eat dirt (pica) contaminated by dog or cat feces.

How is toxocariasis spread?

The most common Toxocara parasite of concern to humans is T. canis, which puppies usually contract from their mother before birth or from her milk. The larvae mature rapidly in the puppy&rsquos intestine when the pup is 3 or 4 weeks old, the worms inside the puppy begin to produce large numbers of eggs that contaminate the environment through the puppy&rsquos feces. After the eggs pass into the environment, it takes about 2 to 4 weeks for infective larvae to develop in the eggs. If a person ingests one of these infective eggs, then they can become infected with toxocariasis.

Toxocariasis is not spread by person-to-person contact like a cold or the flu.

What should I do if I think I have toxocariasis?

See your health care provider to discuss the possibility of infection and, if necessary, to be examined. Your provider may take a sample of your blood for testing.

What is the treatment for toxocariasis?

Visceral toxocariasis is treated with antiparasitic drugs. Treatment of ocular toxocariasis is more difficult and usually consists of measures to prevent progressive damage to the eye.

How do I prevent toxocariasis?

  • Take your pets to the veterinarian to prevent infection with Toxocara. Your veterinarian can recommend a testing and treatment plan for deworming.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after playing with your pets or other animals, after outdoor activities, and before handling food or eating.
  • Teach children the importance of washing hands to prevent infection.
  • Do not allow children to play in areas that are soiled with pet or other animal feces.
  • Clean your pet&rsquos living area at least once a week. Feces should be either buried or bagged and disposed of in the trash. Wash your hands after handling pet waste.
  • Teach children that it is dangerous to eat dirt or soil.

This information is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you have any questions about the parasites described above or think that you may have a parasitic infection, consult a health care provider.


Your cat does hear when you call. It's just ignoring you, study says

"We took [attachment styles] from other previous studies and just thought, 'Do cats actually fit these different styles or not?'" lead study author Kristyn Vitale, a postdoctoral fellow at Oregon State University, said.

In the study, Vitale's team replicated the so-called strange situation tests designed in the 1970s to evaluate the parent-infant bond. But instead of parents and infants, they used 108 cats — 70 kittens and 38 adult felines — and their owners.

To start, a cat was placed in a room with its owner for two minutes. Its owner then left for two minutes and returned for another two minutes. The cat's response to its owner's return was assessed to determine the type of attachment style the pet had to its owner.

Those attachment styles included secure attachment and insecure attachment.

Secure attachments indicate that the subject trusts that its caregiver will look after its needs, and it feels comfortable exploring its surroundings.

"The characteristics of a secure cat, for example, [are] greeting their owner and then going back to what they were doing," Vitale told NBC News. "That’s how a secure human also behaves."

Meanwhile, subjects with insecure attachments tend to exhibit anxiety or fear toward their caregivers. Signs of insecure attachments among the cats included twitching their tails, licking their lips or avoiding their owners when they returned.

The researchers found that approximately 64 percent of the cats were securely attached to their owners, similar to what's seen in dogs and babies.

These findings are useful for debunking the myth that cats are standoffish and do not feel a strong connection to their owners, said Jackson Galaxy, a cat behavior and wellness expert and the host of Animal Planet's "My Cat From Hell."

"As humans, we maybe sometimes don’t give the animal world the dignity of sentient emotional existence," Galaxy told NBC News, adding that cats get an unfair reputation for being emotionally distant — especially when compared to their canine counterparts.

"We’re looking at cats through dog-colored glasses," Galaxy said. "We are disappointed in them because they don’t wag their tails, meet us at the door, demonstrate in a way that humans innately recognize that they love us."

To better understand their pets' emotional needs, cat owners can begin by getting a grasp on just how much their feline friends count on them.

"The majority of cats are looking to their owners to be a source of safety and security," Vitale said. "It’s important for owners to think about that. When they’re in a stressful situation, how they’re behaving can actually have a direct impact on their cats’ behavior."

The new findings come on the heels of a study from earlier this year from Tokyo that found that cats do in fact understand their own names — so if they don't come when you call, they're probably just ignoring you.


Dog Allergy Treatment Options

Dog allergies may not be treated, but there are treatment options that can reduce the symptoms.

The treatment options for people with allergies to dog dander include:

  • Antihistamines, which reduce the symptoms but will not cure the condition must be periodically rotated, so that the patient doesn&rsquot develop immunity to the drugs
  • Steroids, not recommended for long term use, as they have severe side effects including kidney or liver damage
  • Allergy shots, are effective in over 75% of people and may possibly make the patient immune to dog dander the main disadvantage of the allergy shots is that they need to be administered for at least 3 to 6 months before they start being effective and should be administered for 2 to 5 years to develop immunity to dander
  • Immunity boosters and diet supplements

There have been rumors about the invention of hypoallergenic dogs however, dogs that don&rsquot cause allergies in humans don&rsquot exist. All breeds of dogs produce dander, so they all cause allergic reactions in more sensitive people.


Pet Allergy

Pet Allergy Symptoms

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Facial pain (from nasal congestion)
  • Coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing
  • Watery, red or itchy eyes
  • Skin rash or hives

Pet Allergy Management and Treatment

  • Avoid being around dogs and cats if you have a pet at home, take specific steps to limit exposure.
  • Nasal sprays, antihistamines and bronchodilators can help relieve symptoms.
  • Consider allergy shots (immunotherapy).

For more information on cat allergies, click here.

For more information on dog allergies, click here.

If your nose runs and your eyes water or you start sneezing and wheezing after petting or playing with a cat, you likely have a cat allergy. A cat allergy can contribute to constant allergy symptoms, as exposure can occur at work, school, day care or in other indoor environments, even if a cat is not present.

Cats produce multiple allergens (proteins that can cause allergy). These allergens are found on the fur and skin and in saliva. All cats produce allergens studies have not shown that cats can be hypoallergenic (meaning that they don’t cause allergy). Homes with more than one cat have higher levels of cat allergens. Characteristics such as the length of a cat’s hair, its sex and the amount of time a cat spends indoors are not associated with cat allergen levels.

Dust and pollen in a cat’s coat can also cause allergy symptoms. In those cases, the allergy is to the dust or pollen, not to the cat.

Of all the pollen, and mold, and animal dander, dust mites that we have studied, the cat dander is absolutely the smallest dander. And what that means is that allergen remains airborne for at least 30 minutes after you disturb it in the room. That just allows the allergic patient to have a constant exposure to that allergen.

Allergist Dana Wallace, MD

Cat allergy symptoms range from mild to severe, depending on an individual’s sensitivity and the level of exposure to allergens. Those variables may also influence how quickly symptoms develop after exposure. Highly sensitive people can develop symptoms, including breathing problems or a rash, within minutes of touching a cat or entering a house with a cat.

Cat allergy symptoms may include:

  • Sneezing or a runny or stuffy nose
  • Facial pain (from nasal congestion)
  • Coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing
  • Watery, red or itchy eyes
  • Skin rash or hives

Some people may also develop a rash or hives after being scratched by a cat.

Do you suspect you’re suffering from cat allergies? An allergist can provide you with a diagnosis and treatment.

A skin-prick test is the most common way of diagnosing a cat allergy. For this test, a small amount of an extract of cat allergen is placed on your skin. Your skin is then pricked with a small, sterile probe, allowing the liquid to seep under the skin’s surface. You’ll then be monitored for swelling and redness or other signs of a reaction, signaling an allergy. Results typically become evident within 15 to 20 minutes.

Even if you’re sure your symptoms are caused by a cat, it’s a good idea to be tested, since the symptoms may actually be caused by other environmental exposures.

Avoidance is the best way to manage a cat allergy. If you have a cat and are allergic to cats, consider removing the cat from the home.

If you have a cat but don’t want to find it a new home, or if your family wants a cat even though someone in the household is allergic, here are some strategies that may help keep symptoms at bay:

  • Keep the cat out of your bedroom and restrict it to only a few rooms. Be advised that keeping the cat in only one room will not limit the allergens to that room.
  • Don’t pet, hug or kiss the cat if you do, wash your hands with soap and water.
  • High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cleaners run continuously in a bedroom or living room can reduce allergen levels over time.
  • Regular use of a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner or a central vacuum can reduce allergen levels.
  • Giving your cat a bath at least once a week can reduce airborne cat allergen.

Treatments for cat allergy vary, depending on the symptoms.

Your allergist can help determine what treatment would be best to treat your cat allergy. Nasal symptoms often are treated with steroid nasal sprays, oral antihistamines or other oral medications. Eye symptoms are often treated with antihistamine eyedrops. Respiratory or asthma symptoms can be treated with inhaled corticosteroids or bronchodilators to either prevent or relieve respiratory symptoms.

Allergy shots (immunotherapy) are an effective treatment of allergies by building tolerance over time through gradually injecting increasing doses of an allergen.

Is there an allergy-free cat?

Cats produce multiple allergens (proteins that can cause allergy). These allergens are found on the fur and skin and in saliva. All cats produce allergens studies have not shown that cats can be hypoallergenic. Homes with more than one cat have higher levels of cat allergens. Characteristics such as the length of a cat’s hair, its sex and the amount of time a cat spends indoors are not associated with cat allergen levels.

If your nose runs or you start sneezing and wheezing after petting or playing with a dog, you may be allergic to dogs.

Dogs produce multiple allergens, or proteins that can cause allergy. These allergens are found in dog hair, dander, saliva and urine. All dogs produce allergens studies have not shown that dogs can be hypoallergenic (not cause allergy). Dog allergen levels increase if the dog lives indoors and are higher in the rooms where a dog is allowed.

Dust and pollen in a dog’s coat can also cause allergy symptoms. In those cases, the allergy is to dust or pollen, not to the dog.

If you remove a cat from a home, you clean all the walls down, do the laundry, do the draperies, it still takes six months for the level of cat protein to get down to normal.

Do you suspect you’re suffering from dog allergies? An allergist can provide proper diagnosis and treatment.

  • Sneezing or a runny or stuffy nose
  • Facial pain (from nasal congestion)
  • Coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and wheezing
  • Watery, red or itchy eyes
  • Skin rash or hives

Some people may also develop a rash or hives after being scratched or licked by a dog.

Do you suspect you’re suffering from dog allergies? An allergist can evaluate whether can provide proper diagnosis and treatment.

A skin-prick test is the most common way of diagnosing a dog allergy. For this test, a small amount of an extract of dog allergen is placed on your skin. Your skin is then pricked with a small, sterile probe, allowing the liquid to seep under the skin’s surface. You’ll then be monitored for swelling and redness or other signs of a reaction, signaling an allergy. Results typically become evident within 15 to 20 minutes.

Even if you’re sure your symptoms are caused by a dog, it’s a good idea to be tested, since the symptoms may actually be caused by other environmental exposures.

Avoidance is the best way to manage a dog allergy. If you have a dog and are allergic to dogs, consider removing the dog from the home.

If you have a dog but don’t want to find it a new home, or if your family wants a dog even though someone in the household is allergic, here are some strategies that may help keep symptoms at bay:

  • Keep the dog out of your bedroom and restrict it to only a few rooms. Be advised that keeping the dog in only one room will not limit the allergens to that room.
  • Don’t pet, hug or kiss the dog if you do, wash your hands with soap and water.
  • High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cleaners run continuously in a bedroom or living room can reduce allergen levels over time.
  • Regular use of a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner or a central vacuum can reduce allergen levels.
  • Giving your dog a bath at least once a week can reduce airborne dog allergen.

Treatments for dog allergy vary, depending on the symptoms.

Your allergist can help determine what treatment would be best to treat your dog allergy. Nasal symptoms are often treated with steroid nasal sprays, oral antihistamines or other oral medications. Eye symptoms are often treated with antihistamine eyedrops. Respiratory or asthma symptoms can be treated with inhaled corticosteroids or bronchodilators to either prevent or relieve respiratory symptoms.

Allergy shots (immunotherapy) are an effective treatment of allergies by building tolerance over time through gradually injecting increasing doses of an allergen.

Is there an allergy-free dog?

While poodles, Portuguese water dogs and a number of other breeds (including several types of terriers) have a reputation for being hypoallergenic, a truly allergy-free breed does not exist. A 2011 study compared dust samples from homes with dog breeds reported to be hypoallergenic and those of homes with other dogs. The levels of dog allergen in homes with “hypoallergenic” dogs did not differ from the levels in homes with other breeds.


Can cats be allergic to humans in the same way humans are allergic to cats?

Yes. In my practice we regularly perform allergy testing on dogs and cats. One of the allergens we test is human dander. Thankfully, we don't see a very high incidence of positive results (5-10%) compared to other allergens. However, when we do get a positive reading it normally comes as quite a surprise to mom and/or dad.

Weird question, but what exactly is human dander and how do you get samples of it to test?

What do you do if a dog/cat is allergic to humans? How bad is the "human-allergy", and do animals know they have them? A person can know they are allergic to cats and avoid them, but I would imagine a cat has a much harder time avoiding humans (assuming a house-cat here).

Strange question, but humans who are allergic can get hypoallergenic animals. Can pets get hypoallergenic humans that minimize their reactions?


Dogs can read human emotions

Many dog owners believe their pets are able to pick up on their moods, but scientists have demonstrated once and for all that man’s best friend can actually recognize emotions in humans.

Researchers found that by combining information from different senses dogs form abstract mental representations of positive and negative emotional states in people.

Previous studies have shown that dogs can differentiate between human emotions from signs such as facial expressions. But this is not the same as emotional recognition, according to Dr Kun Guo, from the University of Lincoln’s School of Psychology.

“This is the first empirical experiment that will show dogs can integrate visual and oratory inputs to understand or differentiate human emotion as dog emotion,” Kun told Reuters.

Experiments were carried out by a team of animal behavior experts and psychologists at the University of Lincoln, UK, and University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

They presented 17 untrained domestic dogs with images and sounds conveying either positive or negative emotional expressions in humans and dogs.

The dogs used in the testing were unfamiliar with the procedure avoiding any chance of conditioning. The vocalization sound accompanying the human faces was also unfamiliar.

“We used Portuguese to British dogs so they weren’t habituated with any words, they weren’t familiar with any words. So, we wanted to see if the dogs could assess the emotional content of the human voices and whether they would actually discriminate the emotional information within them,” explained Natalia De Souza Albuquerque, a PhD student in experimental psychology.

The results, published recently in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, found that dogs spent significantly longer looking at the facial expressions which matched the emotional state of the vocalization, for both human and canine subjects.

“What we found is that when dogs were hearing positive sounds they would look longer to positive faces, both human and dog. And when they were listening to negative sounds they would look longer to negative, angry faces,” added De Souza Albuquerque.

The study shows that dogs can integrate two different sources of sensory information into a perception of emotion in both humans and dogs. This means dogs must have a system of internal categorization of emotional states. Among animal groups, it’s a cognitive ability previously only evidenced in primates.

The researchers believe that the ability to combine emotional cues may be inherent to dogs. As a highly social species, detecting emotions in humans would have helped them in their domestication by people over the generations.

Dr Kun Guo now wants to conduct more experiments in a bid to better understand how man’s canine companions decipher human emotions. “(So) we can see whether dogs can use a human-like principle or human-like strategy to perceive, understand and respond to human emotion,” he said.


Can my dog or cat get coronavirus? Can I kiss my pet? FDA video warns pet owners about spreading COVID-19

Should you buy your cat or dog a mask? Probably not — and here’s why.

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Protecting your family during the pandemic includes protecting your pets.

A six-year-old siamese cat has become the first animal in the U.K. infected with coronavirus, just weeks after the U.S. announced the first infection in two pet cats in New York state. The U.K.’s chief veterinary officer confirmed the virus responsible for COVID-19 has been detected in the pet cat in the U.K. It had suffered a shortness of breath.

An increasing number of pets has caught the virus, but infections have been reported in relatively few animals worldwide. In April, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Agriculture Department’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories announced the first confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection in two pet cats.

The FDA recently released a YouTube GOOGL, +0.01% video warning pet owners about the risks of infecting companion animals — cats and ferrets, in particular — with the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

“At this time, the risk of pets spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 in people is considered low,” the video narrator explains. “But it does appear people can give the virus to animals.”

The PSA outlines ways to practice social-distancing with pets, as well as tips for taking of pets if you or someone in your household contracts COVID-19. Oh, and sorry, pet parents: experts are also warning people not to kiss their pets, share food with them, or let their fur babies sleep in the same bed as them.

The American Veterinary Medical Association notes that pets do not appear to be easily infected by COVID-19, with less than 25 testing positive for the disease globally. Meanwhile, there have been at least 16.7 million confirmed cases and 660,593 deaths worldwide.

Still, these scattered COVID-19 cases in pets, including a North Carolina pug and at least two cats in New York, are giving many dog and cat owners pause. The CDC has also updated its guidance for pet owners in light of these cases — although it is still not recommending routine testing for pets.

University of Wisconsin researchers also recently warned that cats appear to be able to infect each other with the coronavirus, although many may not show symptoms.

The Chapel Hill pug was tested as part of a study at Duke University after his caretakers fell ill with the virus, according to local outlet WRAL-TV. The dog, Winston, was coughing and sneezing at first, but recovered after a few days.

The cats are also believed to have contracted the virus from people in their households or neighborhoods, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the CDC told the Associated Press.

And earlier in April, a Bronx Zoo tiger tested positive for COVID-19, while six other big cats were showing symptoms of the virus. And the zoo told National Geographic that four more tigers and three lions also eventually tested positive. That incident led Google GOOG, -0.23% searches for “can domestic cats get coronavirus” to spike 950% in the week after the NYC zoo revealed that a 4-year-old tiger tested positive for the novel coronavirus after developing a dry cough. It is believed that the big cats were infected by a person caring for them who wasn’t showing symptoms.

(And lest you think that animals are clawing tests away from humans who need them, the Bronx Zoo’s veterinarian explained in a statement that the tiger was tested “in a veterinary school laboratory and is not the same test as is used for people.” The CDC also notes that animals are only being tested “in very rare circumstances,” and routine animal testing is not recommended at this time.)

&ldquo “There’s no evidence that pets are playing a role in spreading this disease to people.” &rdquo

This adds to the small number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in animals worldwide, and health experts continue to state that while it appears some animals can indeed get the coronavirus from people, there is still no indication that the animals are spreading it to humans.

“We don’t want people to panic. We don’t want people to be afraid of pets” or to rush to test them en masse, CDC official Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh told the AP. “There’s no evidence that pets are playing a role in spreading this disease to people.”

Still, the sick pets (which are expected to fully recover) have refueled fears over whether people infected with the virus could pass the illness onto their four-legged friends, or that they could catch the virus from them in turn.

So MarketWatch spoke with Dr. John Howe, the president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, and pulled the CDC and World Health Organization’s latest guidelines to lay out everything that is known about the relationship between pets and the coronavirus so far.

You can also watch the FDA video here:

Can you get COVID-19 from your pet, or someone else’s pet?

“The answer at this point is no,” Howe said. The CDC states on its coronavirus and animals section that, “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 to people or that they might be a source of infection in the United States.” What’s more, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead, said in a recent press briefing that “we don’t believe that [pets are] playing a role in transmission.”

But what about people spreading the virus to their pets? Besides these cats and this pug, didn’t two dogs in Hong Kong get it?

While the CDC notes that it is “aware of a small number of pets, including cats, reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19,” the possibility of transmission still appears unlikely. Thousands of dogs and cats in 17 countries were tested by IDEXX Laboratories Inc. IDXX, +0.93% , and none came up positive for the virus.

But there is still much that we still don’t know about this new virus, and there have indeed been a handful of isolated sick animal cases, including two dogs in Hong Kong, a cat in Belgium and the Bronx Zoo lions and tigers. That’s why the World Health Organization is actively investigating the human transmission of COVID-19 to animals. Kerkhove acknowledged, “we think that [animals] may be able to be infected from an infected person.”

And as for the much-discussed cases of the two dogs in Hong Kong, Howe explained that these animals showed the presence of the virus, but otherwise had no clinical symptoms and were not ill. They also later tested negative. What’s more, the test that was used in these cases could detect the presence of just a particle of the virus. “To find pieces of the virus in stomach contents or stool does not mean [the dogs] are infected,” he said.

Should you buy your cat or dog a mask? Probably not — and here’s why.

So what should a pet owner do if they contract COVID-19?

Howe and other health experts agree that you should play it safe and have minimal or no contact with your pet, especially because there are still a lot of unknowns about this new coronavirus. That means no cuddling, petting, kissing or sharing food with your fur baby, unfortunately. They also shouldn’t lick you. Keep the pet out of the room that you are recovering in, if possible, and have a family member take care of your critter while you rest up, including feeding, bathing and walking it. “Better yet, see if you can have a friend or neighbor who could take your pet out of the household,” Howe said.

If you live alone and have to take care of your pet yourself while sick, try to limit contact as much as possible. Wear a face mask or face covering when you’re around your animal, and wash your hands before and after you handle them.

Should your pet wear a mask or booties for protection?

While pictures of dogs wearing masks over their noses have spread on social media, Howe said “this is a total waste of money, a total waste of time. It’s not a valid concern.” The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads mostly from person to person through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing and talking.

Should you get your pet tested for COVID-19?

No, the CDC is not recommending tests for pets at this time.

What if you suspect your pet is sick with the coronavirus?

The CDC states that If your pet gets sick after contact with a person with COVID-19, do not take your animal to the veterinary clinic yourself. Call your vet and explain that your pet is showing symptoms like coughing, sneezing and not eating after being around a person with COVID-19. Some veterinarians may offer telemedicine consultations or other plans for seeing sick pets. Your veterinarian can evaluate your dog or cat, and determine the next steps for your pet’s treatment and care from there. Again, pets are only being tested in “very rare circumstances” and on a case-by-case basis. The good news is, all of the U.S. animals that have tested positive so far are expected to recover.

What precautions should you take if you walk a dog or foster a pet that belongs to someone sick with COVID-19?

Howe explained that while the virus is easy to pick up off of smooth surfaces such as countertops and door knobs, dog and cat fur is more porous and traps the virus. This makes it difficult to pick up from an animal’s coat. “There’s certainly nothing wrong with bathing [the animal] when it gets in your home, or before,” he said. “There’s all kinds of great disinfectant shampoos for dogs.” And basic hygiene, such as washing your hands before and after you handle a pet — and, sorry animal lovers, but no kissing your pet on the mouth — is key to prevent picking up any kind of germ from an animal, let alone COVID-19.

“A dog’s mouth is not as clean and sterile like some people think,” he said. “When you think about all of the things a dog licks . it’s just not a good idea.”

You’re fostering a sick friend’s pet. Should you quarantine it from your own pets? Could pets spread it to other pets?

At this point, “we don’t believe so,” Howe said of quarantining pets from each other. The University of Wisconsin study suggests that cats can catch it from each other, but none of the felines in the experiment appeared to get sick or show any symptoms. Three domestic cats were inoculated with the virus, and they were each put in a cage with an uninfected cat. While the cage mates did contract the virus, none of the cats got sick, and all six were virus-free within six days. But more research still needs to be conducted, including among domesticated dogs.

Of course, if the animals don’t know each other, or aren’t friendly with each other, you would want to introduce them gradually anyway. That could include socialization techniques such as supervised introductions, crating, and making sure you’re not praising or fawning one animal over another. The Humane Society offers these tips for introducing new dogs and new cats into multi-pet households.

The FDA also noted in its new video that preliminary research suggests that cats and ferrets are more likely to get the virus than dogs.

What’s the proper social distancing etiquette with pets?

Keep six feet away from other people. Wear face masks in public. Avoid crowds, and don’t congregate in tight spaces. Humans have been practicing these social distancing measures to fight the spread of the coronavirus for weeks now, and the CDC stresses that pet owners need to make sure that their animals follow these new guidelines, too. So that means you shouldn’t let your pets interact with people from outside your household. Keep your dog leashed and six feet away from other dogs and other people while you’re on a walk avoid dog parks and dog runs where people and their pets may congregate (if your city hasn’t already closed them) and politely discourage anyone from petting your pupper.

“You’re not letting your dog go up and sniff other dogs or people,” Howe explained. “You don’t know if somebody recently coughed on that dog.” While the evidence so far suggests that it’s extremely unlikely you would pick up the coronavirus from an animal’s coat, health experts are still advising everyone to keep their distance out of an abundance of caution. “Trying to maintain social distancing is always a good thing,” he said. “And if someone pets your dog on a walk, it may be good to bathe your dog when you get home.”

And if you generally let your cat out, now is the time to keep kitty indoors, just to stay on the safe side.

What if your pet gets sick with something else while you’re in quarantine?

While many veterinary offices are only seeing urgent care or emergency cases at the moment, you still need to call a vet if your pet shows symptoms such as: an extreme change in eating habits excessive thirst vomiting frequently or vomiting blood unusual stool becoming more sluggish than usual sudden weight loss cloudy or red eyes as well as emergency situations such as possibly ingesting poison, difficulty breathing, seizures, open wounds or broken bones.

“Animals are still getting sick, and vets are still seeing animals every day,” Howe said. Call your local vet and explain what’s going on, and they can help determine if a pet should be brought in or not. Some practices may ask the pet owner to drive up to the clinic, where someone will then talk to the owner in the car, and possibly bring the pet into the clinic for care while the owner waits outside or waits at home.

“If an animal gets sick, you can probably be 99.99% sure it will be anything but coronavirus,” Howe added.

People have been warned about over-indulging in comforting junk food or alcohol while sheltering in place. Are there similar health concerns for pets?

Anecdotally, many people have reported that their pets seem thrilled to bits that they are spending so much more time at home with them. But could that be too much of a good thing? Yes, Howe says — especially if you and your animal companion are not getting as much exercise as you used to because you’re staying inside. Maybe you’re taking the dog on fewer walks, or cutting those walks short. Dog runs are now out of the question. And as for cats, maybe you’re lavishing them with too many treats?

“Unfortunately, so many pets in America are already obese, and if they don’t get the exercise they were used to getting before, it’s going to get worse,” Howe said. He suggests checking with your veterinarian and putting your pet on a diet reduce their portion sizes, especially if they’re laying around more than they were before. “And it’s important to exercise them as much as possible,” he said. Apart from maintaining their weight, the lack of stimulation and activity from staying in can cause many dogs to act out and destroy your house. “Any way that you can take them for a walk, even if it’s just walking around the house — make sure they get some exercise,” he said.

For more information about taking care of your pets during the pandemic, check out the following resources:

American Veterinary Medical Association:avma.org

The Centers for Disease Control:cdc.gov/coronavirus

This article was updated on July 29, 2020. Rupert Steiner in London contributed to this article.


Treatment

Once dog allergy is confirmed, the best treatment is to minimize exposure to dogs. This may be impossible if you are a dog owner. Before turning to medication, try keeping your pets off furniture, vacuuming often, investing in air purifiers, and eliminating rugs and drapes from your home. If needed, over-the-counter and prescription antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays and eye drops often will be sufficient to manage your allergy symptoms. If medication isn’t enough, allergy shots containing your allergen may help. Gradually, after many shots, your body will learn to tolerate the allergen.


Can cats be allergic to humans in the same way humans are allergic to cats?

Yes. In my practice we regularly perform allergy testing on dogs and cats. One of the allergens we test is human dander. Thankfully, we don't see a very high incidence of positive results (5-10%) compared to other allergens. However, when we do get a positive reading it normally comes as quite a surprise to mom and/or dad.

Weird question, but what exactly is human dander and how do you get samples of it to test?

What do you do if a dog/cat is allergic to humans? How bad is the "human-allergy", and do animals know they have them? A person can know they are allergic to cats and avoid them, but I would imagine a cat has a much harder time avoiding humans (assuming a house-cat here).

Strange question, but humans who are allergic can get hypoallergenic animals. Can pets get hypoallergenic humans that minimize their reactions?