A pet dog could be the first in Britain to have contracted coronavirus – after it chewed its owner’s discarded tissues.
Mandy Hayes, 60, had all the Covid-19 symptoms and was laid up in bed for weeks with a flaming soar throat, dry hacking cough and lost sense of smell
She caught her Alaskan malamute Mushka chewing on a used tissue left on her bedside table, but was assured by online advice the disease could not pass to pets.
But two weeks later, ten-year-old Mushka developed the exact same symptoms as his owner – a continuous, dry ‘covid’ cough and extreme breathlessness.
Terrified Mandy, from Gravesend, Kent, got a friend to take the dog to the vets – who dismissed the symptoms as kennel cough, then lung worm, she said.
But the pooch got worse, and he was rushed in for a CT scan which revealed excess fluid in his lungs – another classic sign of advanced coronavirus.
Retired store manager Mandy rejected advice to put Mushka down – and instead pressured vets into giving him steroids, a treatment proven to reduce deaths in COVID-19 patients.
And after six weeks of illness, both Mandy and Mushka are finally on the mend.
Mandy hasn’t been able to get a test for her dog – but is even more convinced he had the disease after it emerged this week a pet cat has tested positive in the UK.
She said: “I know he had it. We nearly lost him.
“When the CT scan revealed lungs full of fluid I asked can he have caught it from me, but the vet said ‘no’.
“At that time, the American Kennel Club had on their website that dogs, cats should be sent away to be looked after, if someone had virus in household.
“The UK Kennel Club statement was ‘no known cases’ .
“This has made me very angry. I know my dog had it.
“I have video clips of him when he was suffering, showing him coughing, and very unwell.
“More pet owners need to be made aware of the fact that it is being proven cats and dogs can contract coronavirus from humans.”
Mandy became ill in March but at that point, tests were not routinely available to members of the public who were not in hospital.
Mushka became ill after he snatched one of her used tissues off the table. Her husband Vernon, 55, tried to prise the tissue out his mouth, but it was too late.
But as Mandy started to feel better, she watched in horror as Mushka became ill.
Video footage shows Mushka coughing heavily and consistently grinding his teeth.
For two weeks after he fell ill his condition got worse despite a number of different diagnosis from vets, until they advised he should be put down.
It wasn’t until the vet changed Mushka’s treatment after pressure from Mandy that his condition began to improve, she claims.
The steroids targeted inflammation of the lungs eventually nursed him back to health, she said.
Mandy, who has two children and six grandkids, added: “Throughout the whole pandemic this was waved off by experts as pet owners just being pedantic and overly worried about their pets.
“I know many families who went with the advice of veterinary experts and had their beloved pets put down when there were other options.
“In America pet owners were informed that the safest thing to do was to re home their pets if they contracted the virus to prevent any chance of them getting ill.
“But we weren’t informed of anything like that here in the UK. We were just told it was extremely unlikely and not to worry.
“I think pet owners should know the real reason why their cherished companions aren’t here with them now, at a time when they are needed most.
“The government should accept that they were too slow in releasing this critical life saving information to the public.”
A statement on the Kennel Club website said there is ‘no evidence that dogs’ health is impacted by COVID-19’.
It added: “If your dog is unwell then it is very unlikely that COVID-19 is the cause of their illness, but it is still important that you contact your vet to find out what is causing their illness.”