COVID-19 test available for Okanagan pets - InfoNews

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COVID-19 test available for Okanagan pets

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May 03, 2020 - 2:30 PM

The question on many pet owners' minds lately is whether or not their dog or cat is at risk of contacting COVID-19.

This concern has grown following two cases in New York where cats contracted COVID-19, and another case involving a tiger in the Bronx Zoo.

Because research on the subject is limited, there is no definite answer to the question.

However, a COVID-19 test is now available at local veterinary clinics for pets that meet at least one of the three testing criteria, Dr. Moshe Oz from Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital in West Kelowna said. 

If the pet is living in the household with another human who has COVID-19, they've already been tested for other issues and vets cannot diagnose the problem, or they're showing clinical signs consistent with COVID-19 symptoms, a cat or dog (or ferret) is eligible for the test. 

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Dr. Oz explained that COVID-19 symptoms would be the same in pets as they are in humans. 

"As far as we know, it's basically the same thing," he said. "Respiratory (symptoms), sneezing, coughing, pneumonia, gastrointestinal manifestation." 

These symptoms can also be indicators of different diseases, so the test is essential in properly diagnosing the issue. 

Dr. Oz explains that because there have been no pets treated for COVID-19, there is no protocol if a pet does contract the virus.

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"Because it's a viral infection, we don't really have treatment for it," he said. "So we just try to give the body some time to fight it with supportive treatment."

Supportive treatment consists of antibiotics, fluids and respiratory medication.

Results from the swab and stool sample take one to three business days to process, and the test costs $200. 

So far, no animals have been tested at Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital for COVID-19 since the test became available two days ago. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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