COVID-19 Update: Keeping You and Your Pets Safe

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COVID-19 Update: Keeping You and Your Pets Safe

There are definitely more questions than answers when it comes to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome 2 (SARS-CoV-2), better known as the COVID-19 virus. COVID-19 has only just turned a year old. There’s still a lot that we don’t know or understand about COVID-19, and with information updates occurring almost daily, we must continue to take precautions for ourselves and our pets. The more we know, the more tools we have to fight this virus.

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This article contains information on what we know so far about COVID-19, how to keep you and your pet safe, testing recommendations for your pet, and how to prepare for quarantine with your pet. Please note that information changes and updates happen regularly. Click on the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) linkfor current information regarding Covid-19 and your pet.

What do we know regarding COVID-19 and our pets?

Other coronaviruses infect dogs and cats. These aren’t transmissible to people and should not be confused with Sars-CoV-2. Read more about these viruses by clicking here!

The good news is it appears that pets aren’t easily infected with COVID-19. So far there is no evidence that pets transmit the virus to people. COVID-19 in humans is primarily spread and transmitted from person to person. Smooth (non-porous) surfaces (countertops, doorknobs) transmit viruses better than porous materials (paper money, pet fur).

I’m worried my pet may have COVID-19. What should I do?

We’re all hypervigilant these days and mild respiratory symptoms in our pets such as runny nose, goopy eyes, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, and sleeping more than usual can lead us to worry that our pet may have COVID-19. Talk to your vet if your pet has any of these symptoms, as other more common and treatable infections often cause these signs in our pets. Your vet can help determine what’s causing these mild respiratory and/or gastrointestinal signs and treat your pet accordingly.

Of the small number of pets that tested positive for COVID-19 this past year, those that developed symptoms from the virus were infected after being in close contact with a person that also tested positive for COVID-19. In the fewer than 25 cases of pets testing positive for COVID-19 worldwide since the pandemic began, the pets showed mild to no symptoms of respiratory infection, and those with symptoms have since recovered.

If your pet gets sick after exposure to a person with COVID-19, contact your vet to make a plan. You and your vet can figure out the next steps for your pet’s treatment and care. If you’re sick with COVID-19 and your pet needs veterinary care, using current COVID-19 prevention measures, enlist the help of friends or family to have your pet seen. For the safety and well-being of the veterinary hospital staff, be sure to let them know that you tested positive for COVID-19 when you schedule your pet’s appointment.

Using a telehealth service like FirstVet can be a great step in getting the answers you need about your pet’s health without having to leave the safety of your home. For more information on how to schedule an appointment, click here!

Currently, the CDC, USDA, AVMA, National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials, and several other animal disease monitoring associations do not recommend routine testing of animals for COVID-19. At this time in the United States, the decision to test a pet for COVID-19 isn’t simple. The decision must be a team effort, including the pet’s veterinarian along with local, state, and/or federal public health and animal health officials.

Keeping Pets Safe During a Pandemic

Prepare an emergency kit for up to 14 days of quarantine or self-isolation in the event you can’t leave your home. This includes stocking at least 14 days of pet food, cat litter, and any medications your pet needs. Follow these links for keeping a well-stocked first aid kit for your cat and dog!

Practice social distancing your pet from other pets. Keep cats indoors (if possible), walk your dog on a leash, maintain at least 6 feet from other people and animals, and avoid dog parks or other public places where large numbers of people and their pets gather.

If you think you have COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed positive with a test), try to limit interaction with your pets and other animals, just as you would with people. If possible, have someone else in your home take care of your pets while you’re sick. If you have a service animal or you must care for your pets alone, wear a face mask and wash your hands before and after you feed them and take care of their needs.

Learn more about recommendations from the CDC for people who test positive for COVID-19 and how to take care of their pets by clicking this link.

Additional Recommendations Regarding COVID-19 and Your Pet

  • Pet parents should always practice good hygiene when interacting with their pets. This includes handwashing before and after playing, grooming, feeding, picking up/disposing of urine/stool/vomit/other body fluids, and handling pet toys because other infections can be transmitted between animals and people.
  • Continue routine cleaning of pet collars, leashes, toys, food, water bowls, and carriers.
  • Pet parents who test positive for COVID-19 should resist sharing food, kissing, or hugging their pet.
  • Routine testing of pets for COVID-19 is NOT currently recommended.
  • The risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. It is not recommended to remove pets from homes where a person has tested positive for COVID-19 unless the pet cannot be cared for.
  • The human-animal bond is more important than ever during this pandemic. Vets play an important role in nurturing this bond by providing veterinary care, current, accurate information, and recommendations to keep your pets healthy.

This information is current, as of 1/25/21.

Read more:

Preventing Separation Anxiety: How to prepare your pet for time alone after your COVID-19 Quarantine

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Published: 2/5/2021
Dr. Denise Michanowicz, Veterinarian

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