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ASK THE VET: Advice for covid-positive pet owners

by LEE PICKETT, DVM Creators | May 18, 2020 at 1:59 a.m. | Updated May 18, 2020 at 1:59 a.m.
(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/S. Aaron O'Quin)

Q I have been diagnosed with covid-19, although my symptoms are mild. My pets seem fine, but I wonder whether I should have them tested.

A No, that's not recommended. Covid-19, short for the coronavirus disease recognized in 2019, is caused by SARS-CoV-2, or severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.

The virus is easily transmitted from person to person. In rare instances, infected people have spread the virus to their pets, though few of those pets got sick. Those that did experienced only mild clinical signs that resolved quickly.

Furthermore, there is no evidence that pets can spread the disease to humans.

To protect your pets during your illness, don't kiss them, sleep with them or let them lick your plate after you eat. Ask another family member to care for them while you're sick.

Q Fire ants have invaded my yard, and I'm thinking of buying some bifenthrin to kill them. Before I do, I want to be sure it's safe to use around my dogs.

A Bifenthrin is a pyrethroid insecticide, a synthetic version of the pyrethrins that occur naturally in chrysanthemums. It is the active ingredient in more than 600 granular, spray and aerosol products sold in the United States.

Bifenthrin is a nervous system toxin. It is especially deadly to bees and other insects, as well as fish and other aquatic species.

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Dogs and cats are less susceptible to its effects. However, if your dogs disrupt the treated fire ant mounds and ingest the bifenthrin, they could suffer regurgitation, diarrhea, loss of coordination, tremors or seizures. Death has been reported.

If you're lucky enough to have a fenced yard and your fire ants are outside the fence, your dogs will be fine if they're leashed for their walks.

Q My cat was diagnosed with uveitis after I noticed that the iris of one eye had turned red, its pupil was small, and a foggy haze filled the normally clear front of the eye. My veterinarian prescribed steroid eye drops and sent a blood sample to the lab for further testing.

What is uveitis, and what causes it?

A Uveitis is inflammation of the uvea (YOU'-vee-uh), the structures of the eye that are filled with blood vessels.

By weight, the eye has the highest blood flow of any organ in the body. Light focused through the lens onto the retina generates heat within the eye, and 90% of the blood flowing through the eyes cools them.

The uvea is comprised of the iris, the colored part of the eye you can see, and two additional structures you can't: the ciliary body, which produces the fluid that keeps the front of the eyeball clear and round, and the choroid, the layer of blood vessels between the retina and the white sclera.

Uveitis has many causes, including viral, bacterial, parasitic and other infections; an overactive immune system that targets the eye; ocular wounds, corneal ulcers and cataracts; and even cancer and diseases of other body systems.

Common infectious causes include feline infectious peritonitis, feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency virus, Bartonella and Toxoplasma. In a recent study of 120 cats, the cause could not be determined in 40.8% of cases, despite thorough diagnostic workups.

The steroid drops your veterinarian prescribed should help minimize inflammation. Additional therapy is directed at controlling pain and treating the underlying cause, if one can be identified.

Inadequately treated uveitis can lead to blindness, so consider requesting a referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist. Follow your veterinarian's guidance, and return as recommended for continued care.

Lee Pickett, VMD, practices companion animal medicine in North Carolina. Contact her at

Style on 05/18/2020

Print Headline: Red, cloudy eyes a job for the vet


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