COVID-19: Caring for Your Pets and Frequently Asked Questions

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Photo by Sarah Chai on

Pets are members of our family. And as our communities begin to respond to the novel respiratory disease triggered by a new coronavirus called COVID-19.

There is no doubt that it is imperative to have plans for your animal pals as well as other members of your family and yourself. In order to you’re your family together, we suggest that you include your pets in your plans in these trying times.

In this article, we will answer vital questions that pet owners will be asking this period.

Can I catch the COVID-19 virus from my pet or vice versa?

At this time,  though there are speculations, there is no evidence that dogs, cats, parrots or other household pets can contribute to the spread of COVID-19.

There have been suspected cases, but there have been no confirmed reports of pets or other domestic animals becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus the U.S, and other parts of the world outside Asia.

The CDC has stated that there is no proof that your companion animals can spread the COVID-19 virus, and there is no justifiable reason to take measures against your companion animals which may likely compromise their welfare.

However, it’s always the best idea to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after any contact with animals.

What will happen to my pet if I fall sick?

Keep your domestic pet at home with you, make sure to avoid close contact, and follow proper hygiene.

The CDC has recommended that people who are confirmed or suspected to be sick with the COVID-19 virus limit their contact with animals, whether domestic or not.

This distancing should be done the same way as with other household members who are uninfected. This conservative approach goes a long way to helps protect our four or two-legged friends and other animals.

When possible, get an uninfected member of your household to care for your pets while you are ill. If you are confirmed to be sick with COVID-19, avoid any form of close contact with your pet, including snuggling, petting, being kissed or licked, and even sharing food.

If you must care for your animal or be around your pet for comfort while you are sick, ensure to wash your hands thoroughly before and after you interact with your pets and use a facemask. The  COVID-19 virus can live for hours on several different surfaces, including on your innocent’s pet’s fur.

How can I prepare now for my pet in case I get sick?

It is important to set a plan in place for every member of your family to respond to any emergency that comes up, including illness. Ensure that you have the required pet items on hand before anything happens in the future, including at least a two-week (14 days) supply of pet food, as well as prescription or non-prescription pet medications.

In addition to preparations that are typically recommended for any possible natural disaster threat, make sure that you put a plan in place if you fall ill and must be hospitalized:

Identify a friend or family member who can take care of your pets if you get hospitalized. Have foods, crates and extra pet supplies on hand for easy movement of pets. Keep all of your animal vaccines up to date just in case boarding becomes necessary.

Ensure that all medications are nicely documented with the right dosages and directions for administration. Including whatever prescription you got from your veterinarian will also be helpful.

Ensure that all your pets are wearing an ID tag or collar at all times.

How can I help to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

The CDC has said that the best way to successfully prevent COVID-19 and any other viruses from spreading is by deliberately following everyday preventative measures. Follow the three simple steps listed below to reduce risk of transmission:

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Stay at home when you feel sick.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.

Stay informed

This is a quickly evolving situation, and it is encouraged that you regularly consult or check the websites for the WHO and the CDC.

Always be quick to contact your veterinarian and your doctor if you suspect that either your pet or yourself has been exposed to the virus.

If experts really believe that it is unlikely for a dog to get infected by the COVID-19, then how did a dog test “positive” in Hong Kong?

This recorded canine patient was in very close contact with a human who was already infected and was possibly shedding large quantities of the COVID-19 virus.

This is what led to the virus getting into the dog’s nose. However, there is no indication that the said canine is sick or showing any likely symptoms. Authorities maintain that they will continue to keep the dog in quarantine to evaluate if the dog patient falls ill.

In short, it was found that there was coronavirus on the canine just like there was coronavirus on a surface in the room but the animal was not found to be infected or diseased.

Although pets cannot fall sick from the COVID-19, is it possible that they serve as a conduit of infection between individuals?

Yes. It is quite possible that a pet owner with COVID-19 may sneeze or otherwise get their pet contaminated, and then another person could play with the pet and contract the infection.

Veterinary experts are of the opinion that the risk for transmission may be low. It has been found that the COVID-19 virus survives on hard, inanimate surfaces such as glass, metal, and wood, rather than on soft surfaces like fur and cardboard.

Nevertheless, animals that are living with people who are sick from the virus should be kept in a different area of the house, far away from other animals and people.

The same way people who live in the same house with sick individuals have to avoid all forms of contact with others.

Is there a COVID-19 vaccine for domestic dogs and cats?

There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19 for individuals or animals at this time. Veterinarians are familiar with other types of coronaviruses.

Similar in a number of ways, but different coronavirus species are responsible for several common diseases in animals. For example, many dogs get vaccinated for other types of coronavirus (Canine Coronavirus) when they are puppies.

However, though the vaccine is for a coronavirus, it does not cross protect for the novel COVID-19.

Can veterinarians test for COVID-19 in pets?

Yes. As of March 15, 2020, it is possible to test for the new COVID-19 in domestic pets. The test request, however, has to be submitted by a licensed veterinarian and must also include the rationale for testing.

Requests made will then be transferred to the state animal health officer, as well as the state public health veterinarian to be approved on a case-by-case basis. If there is a positive result, these same officials have to be notified before going further to notify the referring veterinarian.

What animal did COVID-19 originate from?

Current studies suggest that the horseshoe bats are the likely reservoir species and the COVID-19 coronavirus also originated from that specie.

There have been previous human coronavirus outbreaks, namely SARS and MERS, and those were found to have originated in bats but were passed through other species, such as camels and the palm civet.

If I am diagnosed with COVID-19, what can I do to protect my pet?

Since your pet is at minimal risk of getting infected by the COVID-19 virus, there are steps set in stone to protect them from infection at present.

However, when you sneeze or cough around your pet, these animals can have the virus ON THEIR body and could serve to be a transportation channel for the virus to other people who are uninfected, including family members.

Therefore, in order to protect yourself and other people, the CDC has recommended that you restrict all forms of contact with pets if you have been confirmed sick with COVID-19, the same way you would restrict all physical or close contact with other people.

Avoid being licked, snuggling, being kissed, and sharing food. Always wash your hands before and after contact with your pet, and wear a face mask.

Should my pet wear a face mask in public?

No. While that may look funny, Face masks are not sure to protect your pet from any disease transmission and may lead to other breathing difficulties.

Should I wear a face mask?

Everyone seems to be doing it, but wearing a surgical mask is not sure to prevent anyone (human or animal) from exposure to the virus.

A surgical mask or any type of nose mask should be used to prevent someone that is already found to be potentially infectious from spreading the coronavirus to other people via droplets through talking, coughing, or sneezing.

Will the COVID-19 have any impact on pet food safety?

Because domestic animals have been found not to be able to contract the virus easily, there is no threat to pet food safety.

How best do I protect my pet and myself from COVID-19?

Since your dog or cat is at minimal risk of being infected by the COVID-19 virus there are no specific steps required to protect them from the infection.

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