Your Pets and COVID-19
So much information is out there about this novel coronavirus; some true, some false and some we still don’t know the answers to. One of the big concerns is pets and the COVID-19. Can we as owners get it from our pets, are they carriers, can they spread the virus to others? Every day new information is coming out and as I was writing this article yet another case came up in a pug dog named Winston in North Carolina. This is the first known case found in a dog in the US since this virus emerged. Globally there have been to date 2 pet dogs and 1 pet cat in Hong Kong and one cat in Belgium that have tested positive. We have also recently seen 2 house cats in NY and also 8 big cats at the Bronx zoo that have tested positive for COVID-19. So, yes animals are being exposed to the virus and the transmission appears to be from infected COVID-19 patients. These animals that have tested positive are showing mild to no symptoms and at this time all have recovered. So what role do they play? The CDC has a website that lists information IF YOU HAVE ANIMALS, which outlines many key points to help you understand the exposure and transmission and what roles animals may play in this disease.
As a Veterinarian and pet owner myself, I am staying on top of this as much as I can but it is hard as new information is coming out daily. I will say from my reading, The World Organization for Animal Health states the predominant route of transmission of COVID-19 is from human to human. The CDC states at this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in 2 spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 and based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. If you own pets what should you do? Do not rehome them, they are part of our family and as such we treat them as you would other human family members to protect them from possible infection.
• Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
• Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
• Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people and animals.
• Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.
• Wash hands after handling animals, their food, waste or supplies.
• Practice good pet hygiene and clean up after pets properly. If you or someone you know is sick and suspected or confirmed to be positive for COVID-19 you should restrict contact with your pets and other animals that may have been exposed.
• When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick.
• Avoid contact with your pet including, petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding.
• If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.
• If you are sick and your pet becomes ill, call your veterinarian, they can evaluate (via telemedicine) your pet and determine the next steps for your pet’s treatment and care.
As you can see new data is emerging daily from many reputable sources such as the CDC (Center for Disease Control), OIE ( World Organization for Animal Health) and the AVMA ( American Veterinary Medical Association). I would rely on them for the facts and current information on COVID-19 in our pets and other animals. Please remember, our pets are an important part of our family. I know in these times we are scared and isolated and may think about making a decision we may regret. We can live a happy healthy life together with our pets if you follow the recommended guidelines listed above. The risk of COVID is likely not from animal to human, it is human to human.
So keep your pets and enjoy the unconditional love they have to offer. Be Safe and Be well.
Dr Stacey Huber
Veterinarian / Owner
Animal Oasis of the Rockies Veterinary Hospital