Covid-19: What About Our Pets?
Like not being able to awaken from a horrific nightmare, Covid-19 emerged its ugly head into our work places, homes, lives and our entire world. A virus not ever seen before with no known treatment, fix or cure. It took us with our guard down and moved swiftly and viciously throughout our existence. Covid-19 had developed into a World Pandemic right before our very eyes. Life as we have known it to be was forever changed. How we lived, worked and socialized would never be the same. No one was safe, no one was immune, not even our precious pets.
Scientists and doctors rushed to find answers and treat the victims that fell to this raging monster virus. Many were becoming infected and dying. People were in fear and speculations had been spread that our dogs and possibly our cats could contract, carry and infect us with Covid-19 a type of coronavirus. There was so little known and no real research due to the virus being brand new, that many people dumped their dogs and cats in shelters, roadsides and many to their deaths. At no fault of their own, our precious pets were falling victim and being blamed due to the lack of knowledge and human panic.
In China, where this strand of coronavirus began from what is now believed to be a bat, dogs were being abandoned in such large numbers that they were destroying them on the streets and often inhumanely. Countless numbers of pets were being abandoned in many countries including the United States.
Dogs and cats can be infected with some types of coronaviruses that are most often specific to their species, but in rare cases can be human transferrable. At this point in time, it is not know for sure which animals are more likely to contract Covid-19. However, research is showing that over 400 animal species are at risk of contracting Covid-19. Animals with all 25 Amino Acid residues matching the human protein are believed to be at the greatest risk according to Joana Damas, lead author of the study published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America). This research points toward cats being more at risk than dogs to contract the virus with cats being in the medium risk category followed by dogs in the low risk group.
Education and information are coming at a slow rateleaving people questioning what can we do to be safe and keep our beloved, loyal furry family members safe and remain with us.
To date, there is no evidence or research that supports that our animal pets can give us Covid-19 but sadly the opposite has been shown to be true. The few animals that have been positive have all had contact with humans that tested positive for Covid-19.
A Tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York tested positive which fueled the belief that cats could spread the virus. It was later discovered that a zookeeper that cared for the tiger had tested positive.
The first case of a dog that tested positive and may have died from Covid-19 had contracted the virus from his contact with his human owner that had tested positive. Buddy, the seven year old German Shepherd, also suffered from Lymphoma which made it difficult to determine if the virus or his underlying health issues were his actual cause of death.
There are currently nine documented cases of Covid-19 infections on Mink farms in the United States and Europe. It is still in research stages to determine if the minks gave the virus to the farm workers or if Covid-19 positive workers passed it to the minks. The spread was rapid and a concern for the possibility of the minks passing it on to other animals on the farms are noted. Research continues in hope to find more definite answers. It is believed that it is possible that the virus can be spread from one animal to another.
According to the CDC, Covid-19, a coronavirus is caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart and lung disease or diabetes seem to be at a higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. The CDC recommends social distancing of at least 6 feet in public or groups and for people to wear masks. Above all else wash your handsthoroughly and correctly often. A sneeze can travel up to 26 feet which makes wearing a mask an intelligent, safe choice. Keep gatherings down to 10 people or less while maintaining the 6 feet apart social distance rule. If you feel sick, have a fever, headache or have came into contact with a person(s) that are sick or known to be positive for the virus then please remain at home. Seek medical assistance and testing ASAP. We now have new vaccines and have begun to administer them to people and must remain positive that someday we may even have a vaccine for our pets as well.
As we consider our pets we must consider the same safety precautions. Always consider the older, the sick, and those with compromised immune systems at a higher risk just as it is with people. Go for a walk with your dog, it is both physically and mentally healthy for both you and your dog especially in these days of quarantines. Use the six foot social distance rule, wear a mask, walk on the opposite side of the street from someone else that is walking their dog, or keep a safe distance until they can pass. Do not allow your pet to go up to another dog that is being walked from a different household and do not allow others to pet your dog. Please do not put a mask on your pet as it can restrict breathing and will cause anxiety in most pets. If you are sick or test positive for Covid-19, please wear a mask and gloves while feeding, interacting and caring for your pet. If possible, have someone else care for your pet while you are ill. Remember that almost all animals that have become infected with this highly contagious virus are believed to have caught it from a human that is infected. As always, be sure to wash your hands after interacting with your pet. Taking a few precautions such as those mentioned above could save you and your pet from having to deal with the nightmare of this devastating virus that is here to stay and kills relentlessly.
As we have seen so many people leave their jobs and offices to turn their homes into a work place during the pandemic we have seen a rise in pet adoptions. This is a glorious turn for so many animals that lost their previous homes and families. People were at home and reached out to offer a home and love to pets in need. As the owner of four rescue dogs and a long time rescuer, I can tell you there is nothing more gratifying. As we offer these beautiful furry friends a new beginning, please be sure that pet adoption/ownership is right for you. Each and everyone of these beautiful pets have a background and backstory with many missing pieces that we will never know. We need to offer patience and understanding as they make the huge adjustment of entering a new family and environment. Please do not give up on them, and give them the time to trust and show you unconditional love. With all that so many of these beloved dogs, cats and pocket pets have been through, we do not want them to suffer another abandonment because what was meant to safe a life and be a second chance turns into another disappointment that could cause them issues with depression, anxiety and even cost them their lives.
As a retired veterinary technician with over thirty-five years experience, a wife of a man that has had a kidney transplant and suffers from diabetes and heart disease, a mother to a son with severe food allergies and a pet owner, I feel it is imperative to follow every safety precaution that is recommended to have the best possible chance to stay safe in these uncertain times.
We as people, pet owners and human beings are all facing the same ugly monster known as Covid-19, living in frightening times filled with uncertainty. It is unknown to our entire world what the extent of damage of this pandemic will be before it is done with us. Keep yourself informed, pay attention and follow all recommended safety tips and practice social distancing. Keep in mind that wearing a mask in public was never meant to be a fashion statement, but to save lives. Lastly, please remember that your dogs, cats and other pets are not a danger to you and need you to keep them safe. After all, they are members of our families and they are our forever friends offering us unconditional love. We are all in this together and we must be vigilant and proactive each and every day. To quote H.E. Luccock, “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” Be safe out there and All the Best.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cheri Craft is a retired licensed veterinary technician residing in Louisville, Kentucky. She has held licenses in Kentucky and Indiana while in active practice. She has also worked in West Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina. Cheri is a graduate of Morehead State University School of Veterinary Technology and Agriculture in Morehead, Kentucky. She also has studied Education through Midway College in Midway, Kentucky. Prior to her retirement, she owned and operated Cheri’s Critter Care, LLC for nearly ten years which provided visiting veterinary nurse services as well as full service pet care in pet owner homes. Today she enjoys retirement, writing pet related articles from a personal perspective to share on her website, social media and various publications. Visit her website at www.petcetera4u.com
You can contact Cheri by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to all listed links and writers that served as reference to this article. Please be sure to read this wide selection of useful information.
What Is That Stuff In My Pet’s Food?
The Reality of The Dangerous Ingredients In Pet Foods
An Article by Cheri Craft, Petcetera Creator
Since there have been pets there have been pet owners going above and beyond to the best of their capabilities to provide the best of everything for their beloved fury family members. Food is definitely no exception. There are tons of pet foods on the market for every type, breed and lifestyle of pets. There are those that look and smell so delicious, those specific to breed diets, medical conditions and flavors. Many are designed for weight loss, grain free for those that have allergies, many have lots of color (which is designed to look good to the pet owner), while others are soft vs. hard and some that are better for dental health and still others for the senior pet vs. the puppy/kitten or adult pet. The picture is clear . . .There is a pet food of every size, shape and color to fit every level of age, activeness and health situation out there.
So which food is the best for your pet? What are the ingredients in all these foods? Why are there so many? Are they really good for your dog or cat? Are they dangerous? All of these questions should be considered when choosing a food for your furry companion. A discussion that is well worth the time with your trusted veterinarian is imperative. We all want what is best for our pets. Each and every pet has specific, individual needs. The sad and frightening truth is there is an incredible amount of dangerous ingredients in so many of the pet foods on the market. In most cases loving pet owners are paying big bucks for premium label foods because they believe it is the best for their four – legged family friend. They have no idea they are giving their pet a food daily that is labeled safe and approved by the FDA to sale yet it is packed full of toxic ingredients that could be slowly causing considerable health issues or even eventual death.
The pet food market uses many dangerous ingredients for a variety of reasons. Common reasons for these ingredients (Preservatives) are to prevent spoilage, dyes for color for eye appeal, preservatives for long shelf life, moistening agent and prevention of bacterial growth, some ingredients are insecticidal and/or is used in antifreeze. Pet owners tend to feed diets on a perpetual/long term basis. Pet diets do not usually have much change which is the reason that these chemical ingredients have the potential to be so hazardous with long term subjection. Some of the most commonly used toxins that are listed in many pet foods are listed below. Please read over them carefully and be sure to check your current pet food for these dangerous ingredients. Your time and research could save you the terrible grief of losing your pet to a terrible illness caused by the ingredients in his or her food.
- Propylene Glycol: is a moistening agent used in some dog foods and treats to help prevent moisture and helps the food to retain it’s texture and prevent bacteria from growing. The danger lies in the fact that it is derived chemically from Ethylene Glycol, a.k.a. Antifreeze which is highly toxic to animals. It has been shown to cause a serious type of blood disease known as Heinz body anemia. Propylene Glycol has been banned by the FDA for use in cat food, but unfortunately is still allowed in dog food and treats and can be very harmful over long term use.
- BHA: Butylated Hydroxyanisole is an antioxidant that is used mostly as a preservative in food, animal feed, cosmetics, rubber and petroleum products. It is recognized as a human carcinogen (cancer causing) and causes certain types of tumors. BHA is used in certain pet foods and treats as a preservative to extend shelf life of the product. As mentioned previously, the big concern is the long term use of products containing this carcinogenic preservative to our pets daily in their diets.
- BHT: Butylated Hydroxytoluene is a chemical used as a preservative to prevent fats and oils in pet foods from spoiling prematurely. Like BHA, BHT extends shelf life but of the fat within the food product. As horrifying as it sounds, the reality is that BHT is also used in cosmetics, petroleum products, jet fuels, and yes, even embalming fluid. The use of BHT has become very controversial and is suspect of causing cancerous tumors. BHT has been banned as a preservative in foods in several countries including Australia, Japan, Sweden and Romania. Once again, the concern in using a food long term for our pets containing BHT is monumental and should be avoided.
- Dyes: Coloring for eye appeal of pet foods.
- TBHQ: Tertiary Butylhydroquinone is a form of Butane that is used to make varnish and resins.
- Ethoxyquin is often used in meal products and is sometimes hidden from the list of ingredients. This is technically a pesticide and has been linked to cancer.
- Sodium Metabisulphite is a bleaching agent found in many pet foods.
- Meat By-Products/Rendered Fat are usually organs and tissues obtained from dead animals. Often these By products are road kill, dead zoo animals and even euthanized pets from animal shelters.
- Corn and Soy are used as fillers. These are popular main ingredients in pet foods, especially dog foods as a thickener and to cut cost. Corn and Soy are plentiful in the United States are most often genetically modified in addition to being sprayed with potentially cancer causing chemicals like those used in insecticides. The most interesting fact about these widely used ingredients are that they are foreign to what is natural in the dog/cat carnivorous diet, yet often used as a main ingredient.
- Sorbitol and Xylitol are basically sugar alcohol. These are ingredients that should NEVER be fed to your pet. In addition to causing hypoglycemia, they are linked to causing life threatening liver disease.
Grain Free Diet Controversy:
While there has never been any conclusive evidence with investigations of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) and grain free diets, there have been many associations to deaths of young adult dogs suddenly dying when eating a grain free diet. DCM is a type of canine heart disease that affects the heart muscle where the heart can’t pump enough blood causing congestive heart failure. The diets of concern that are being investigated contain legumes like peas or lentils, other legumes seeds or potatoes that are listed as main ingredients. There are theories that the grain free diet deaths were more breed based and not so much the food ingredients. In other words, certain breeds may be more prone to health issues from a grain free diet due to their genetic make up for DCM and other grain free diet health concerns.
Treats are no exception and many contain the dangerous preservatives and additives listed above.
There are good preservatives (Natural) out there and most are some type of an anti-oxidant or vitamin. By choosing to use the natural preservatives in a pet food it is possible to have the desired shelf life while also offering the additional benefits of anti-oxidants for pets. Listed below are some of the more commonly used good preservatives.
- Forms of Vitamin C (including Ascorbic Acid)
- Rosemary (Extract)
- Sage (Extract)
- Cloves (Extract)
- Vitamin E (Mixed Tocopherols)
Our pets depend on us to protect them and keep them safe, to care for them and to be their voice. Choosing a pet food should not have to be a dangerous mission and we all want the very best for our beloved furry friends. Unfortunately the threats of impending danger does exist in the pet food marketing industry and we must diligently research and check the ingredients we allow our pets to ingest each and every day. Many pet owners choose to make homemade diets for their furry family members. This is a dedication to be admired, but great caution and much research should go into this task as it can very easily be an issue if too much of an ingredient or protein goes in or too little of this vitamin or needed mineral is used in the food preparation. Talk to your trusted veterinarian and reach out to the customer care services of the pet food manufacturer of the specific food you are feeding your pet. Ask questions and get answers about what is actually in your pet’s food. This is time well spent and knowledge that will be priceless as it is keeping your precious family member safe while providing optimum nutrition. To quote Sir Francis Bacon from 1597, “Knowledge Is Power”. Stay in the know about your pet. The reward is their longer, healthier life at your side. It doesn’t get much better than that!!
There is nothing more rewarding then the journey of pet ownership and the countless heartstring pulling moments that come with it. I wish each of you and your pet Pawsitive Wags and Wiggles!! Stay Safe and Healthy Out There. All The Best!!
Petcetera . . . Bringing People And Knowledge Together For Healthier Pets.
Thank you for stopping by and reading.
I hope you will drop in again for our next article coming soon . . .
The Incredible Edible Shroom: The Pawsitive Health Benefits of Adding Mushrooms To Your Pet’s Diet.
You can contact Cheri at Petcetera123@gmail.com
I have found this link helpful and they send notifications to you on any recalls or issues with pet foods. https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com I recommend giving it a look.
Thank you to all listed links and writers that served as reference to this article. Please be sure to read this selection of useful information that these writers put together.
Pet Food: The Good, the Bad and the Healthy
By: Patrick Mahoney, Wellness Vet
Preservatives In Pet Foods
American Kennel Club
Diet, Safety, Health
Cat Food Ingredients To Avoid
By: Franny Syufy
12 Toxic Ingredients Lurking In Dog Food
By: Megan Patiry
Hello from Cheri,
I am a retired Veterinary technician residing in Louisville, Kentucky. I have held licenses in Kentucky and Indiana while in active practice. I have also worked in West Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina. I am a graduate of Morehead State University School of Veterinary Technology and Agriculture in Morehead, Kentucky. I also have studied Education through Midway College in Midway, Kentucky. Prior to my retirement, I owned and operated Cheri’s Critter Care, LLC for nearly ten years which provided visiting Veterinary nurse services asc well as a full service pet care in pet owner homes. Today I enjoy retirement, writing pet related articles from a personal perspective to share on my website, social media and various publications.