Covid variant may be linked to pet heart problems

Covid variant may be linked to pet heart problems

Vets in warning over cases inked to UK variant of virus

Vets have warned of a possible link between the UK variant of coronavirus and heart problems in cats and dogs.

A study at a Buckinghamshire veterinary clinic found a marked spike in pets being admitted with “severe cardiac abnormalities”.

Research said that the number of animals being treated for heart issues mirrored a similar curve seen in human cases of the Kent variant of Covid.

The Kent variant – B117 – is thought to be responsible for about 70% of Covid cases in Northern Ireland.

Figures for cats and dogs presenting myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) soared from 1.4% to 12.8% in the months between

December 2020 and February 2021.

‘Clear hypothesis’

“We don’t want to generate undue fear, particularly because we have a clear hypothesis of transmission from human to pet but not vice versa – and we don’t know for sure,” said Luca Ferasin, a cardiologist at the Ralph Veterinary Referral Centre (RVRC) in Marlow.

“However, veterinarians should be mindful of this to begin checking if they consider a possible Covid infection.”

Most pet owners had developed respiratory issues after contracting Covid-19 in three to six weeks before their companions fell ill and the pets admitted to the vet had no previous history of heart disease.

Symptoms included lethargy, lack of appetite, rapid breathing or shortness of breath.

A total of 11 animals recovered within a few days of intensive care, but one cat had to be put down.

The B117 variant, better known as the Kent or the UK variant, was first discovered in the south east of England in December last year.