Pet Improvement: COVID-19 pets, more S’s and Vitamin C

COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, is shown above. (Photo courtesy of the Linus Pauling Institute)

First, the good news: IDEXX Laboratories, the world’s leader in veterinary diagnostic testing, has issued a statement that they have tested thousands of samples with “no positive results in pets to date of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus strain responsible for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).” If it becomes necessary, they have developed a test for animals that is ready to be used and they can handle the volume. Currently the American Veterinary Medical Association is not recommending any testing for pets.

The bad news: there has been a second confirmed case of COVID-19 infection in a pet dog in China. Researchers believe this was a human to animal transmission. Here in the U.S., some veterinary clinics are also concerned that infected persons handling or petting a pet could transfer the virus through the fur. None of this has been proven. The bottom line is that scientists and practitioners are still gathering data on this pathogen. Pets are not giving people the virus, but if you are sick, please take extra care when handling your animals.

My partner, biochemist Randall Thomason, has been preparing as many immune-supportive tips as possible. Last column, we visited the importance of good sleep, reduced stress, proper sanitization and minimization of synthetic chemicals. Now, we would like to focus on the importance of dietary supplements, the role of a good food, or sustenance, the benefits of sunlight and even sanity as ways to stay healthy.

Breaking news is that vitamin C therapy is in the spotlight. Last November, I interviewed Alexander Michels, the research and communications coordinator, with the Linus Pauling Institute (LPI) at Oregon State University. Here is a special statement from LPI regarding vitamin C therapy and other nutrients.

The LPI is closely watching the clinical trials with intravenous (IV) vitamin C and COVID-19-related pneumonia with great interest. However, there currently are no available data to show vitamin C can prevent or successfully treat COVID-19 infections. Once the trial data are available for review, the LPI will comment on the efficacy of IV vitamin C in COVID-19. In 1970, Linus Pauling published “Vitamin C and the Common Cold,” a book that revolutionized the way the world viewed vitamin C and infectious disease. Pauling believed that increasing the daily dose of vitamin C could help the body mount a strong immune response when confronted with a respiratory infection.

The Linus Pauling Institute acknowledges that many people worldwide have reported to be in better health after taking large amounts of vitamin C. To date, clinical trials have shown that vitamin C supplements can shorten the duration of the common cold, but there are no data to suggest that vitamin C supplements can stop respiratory infections in the general population. To be clear, these results came from trials with participants undergoing heavy physical activity indicate a benefit of oral vitamin C on common cold incidence. There are no such trials on influenza or coronavirus. The full study review is available to read at: https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000980.pub4/full.

The LPI continues to advocate for rigorous research on both oral and IV vitamin C for treating both inflammation and infection. Yet, there have been few rigorous studies on vitamin C and respiratory infections. Clinical trials with IV vitamin C and coronavirus-related pneumonia are currently underway in China. These trials are of great interest to the LPI, which will monitor them closely. More information on that trial is available at: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04264533.

Meanwhile, the LPI recommends taking these steps to support a healthy immune system: eat a healthy diet, and ensure that you meet the recommended intakes of all micronutrients — especially vitamins A, C, D and E, as well as zinc. You can find recommended intakes for essential nutrients in our Micronutrients for Health handout. More information about the immune system and micronutrients is available in the Micronutrient Information Center article, Immunity in Brief.  To read more from the LPI, visit https://lpi.oregonstate.edu.

Oregon State University has established a COVID-19 website to provide detailed and updated information; links to OSU, local, state and federal resources; and some frequently asked questions. Please regularly check this website for important updates:  https://leadership.oregonstate.edu/coronavirus

Jane Laulis is an avid pet lover. She hosts a pet talk radio show and is involved with pets from research to retail, nutrition to pet food manufacturing. She lives on the coast with her scientist husband, ocean faring dogs, indoor cats, exotic snakes and a charm of hummingbirds. She may be reached at [email protected]

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