Q and A: New Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Pets

By Dr. Katy Nelson, DVM                                                   Dr. Katy Nelson

As communities around the world respond to the new coronavirus (COVID-19), you should have the most up-to-date information on how it impacts you and your pets.

Here are the answers to pet parents’ most-asked questions.

Q: Can you get the new coronavirus from your pet?

A: No; there is currently no evidence for this.

One of the most common questions we’re hearing from many pet parents is “can I catch the virus from my pet or vice versa?”

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have advised that there is no evidence at this time that companion animals can spread the virus, nor have they received any reports of pets or other animals becoming ill from COVID-19.

As we learn more, we will share that information with you.

There is no reason whatsoever to take measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare or erode the bond you have with your four-legged loved ones.

Q: What if I get COVID-19 and have to be quarantined?

A: Stock up on essential supplies for you and your pet to last 2-4 weeks.

While pets do not appear to be at risk of this disease, you should create a plan of action for yourself and your pets in case of an emergency situation. COVID-19 is a great reminder to create that plan now if you haven’t already developed one.

If you need to quarantine, make sure you have a supply of the following items that lasts 2-4 weeks:

  • Food and water
  • Prescription and preventive medications (don’t forget flea and tick, heartworm)
  • Emergency and hygiene supplies

Q: How do I care for my pets if I get sick?

A: Designate someone to care for them, wash your hands before and after contact, and don’t kiss or hug your pet.

Develop a strategy in case you may not be able to care for your pets. Contact a neighbor, your veterinarian and/or a local boarding facility to secure temporary housing in your time of need.

If you are ill with COVID-19, or other contagious illnesses, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends that you “have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding, and playing with your pet. If you have a service animal, or you must care for your pet, then wear a facemask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with your pet or service animal.”

Q: What if my pet needs to go to the vet while I’m sick?

A: If it’s an emergency, ask a public health official about transport, and alert your veterinarian.

If your pet requires routine care while you are sick (annual exams, vaccinations, elective surgeries or routine monitoring), ask your veterinarian to reschedule to a later date when you are healthy.

If your pet requires immediate or emergency care, contact your local public health official to determine the best course of action to transport your pet to the veterinarian. Alert your veterinarian that you have been ill so they can take effective measures to protect themselves from the possibility of exposure.

Q: I think my pet is ill—what do I do?

A: See your veterinarian.

If your pet shows signs of illness, and they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, see your veterinarian immediately for a full workup.

According to the AVMA, “currently there is no clinical testing available as of today (3/12/2020) in the United States, but tests and testing capacity are being developed. It is possible that authorization may need to be obtained from a public health or state veterinarian prior to submission of samples. More information on test availability and requirements for submission is expected to be available shortly.”

This is a rapidly developing situation, and we encourage you to follow the CDC and WHO’s websites for further information. Take all of the necessary precautions to stay safe, and have a plan ready for you and your pet.

Meeting in person

When meeting people to rehome or adopt a pet, please follow your State, local and Federal gov. guidelines and regulations, in addition to the CDC guidelines for social distancing and proper sanitation.

We encourage you to take precautions when meeting with people. Use outdoor meeting places, wear protective gear, like a mask, gloves and glasses, wash hands and follow social distancing guidelines.