coronavirus testing

Some Pets Can Get Tested for Coronavirus — But Is It Necessary?

A company named IDEXX says the test should only be used by a veterinarian “after consultation with a public health authority” and if “three specific criteria are met."

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A company announced it can now test your pet for COVID-19, but is that necessary, and will it have any effect on all the humans trying to get tested?

Veterinarians say that the availability of this pet testing means more dogs and cats can get tested. But still, it’s highly unlikely your pet will get the novel coronavirus. 

Take, for example, Opie, a cat in LA County that suddenly started coughing.  

“Opie is a one year old cat, and what was concerning about his cough is that the owner received a positive confirmation that he had COVID-19,” Doctor Julio Lopez said, Opie's veterinarian. “There are various reasons for dogs and cats to cough, but in Opie’s situation, he’s a one-year-old, indoor-only cat who isn’t exposed to other animals other than the other cat in the household who’s also indoor only.” 

Dr. Lopez contacted the LA County Department of Public Health, because a suspected case of coronavirus — even in a cat — must be reported. 

He says getting a pet tested was about as difficult as getting a human tested, because few labs did it.

Now, a company called IDEXX says it’s offering testing to veterinarians across the country.  Lopez says while that means there may be more tests, it doesn’t mean your pet should get one.

“We’re not testing random pets for COVID-19.  You have to fall into a category where we feel that there’s enough reason to test,” Lopez said.

In fact, in a statement to NBC4, IDEXX says the test should only be used by a veterinarian “after consultation with a public health authority” and if “three specific criteria are met”:

  • the pet is living with a human who has covid-19.
  • Other, more common infections have been ruled out.
  • And the pet (especially cats and ferrets) is showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Lopez says testing will cost between $175 and $275 at his clinic.

As for Opie, his test turned out negative for coronavirus. 

“I would say that most pets are not at risk for COVID-19,” Lopez says.

Lopez says the coronavirus test for pets is different than the one for people, because it doesn’t use the same reagents.  And the labs are different too, so there’s no impact on human testing.

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