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COVID-19 and pets: 5 things you can do

April 13, 2020

We are well aware of the impact of COVID-19 on human health and daily life, but what about our pets? While we don't know much about the virus in animals currently, it seems that they are at risk of contracting the virus from positive humans, but not transmitting it back. How can we keep ourselves and pets happy and healthy in the global pandemic? 

Can pets get COVID-19? What we know

Two dogs and one cat have been infected with COVID-19, but according to the CDC, WHO and AMVA, there is no evidence at this point that pets can spread COVID-19 to other animals or people.

  • A 17-year-old Pomeranian in Hong Kong had several “weak positive” tests from nasal and oral swabs following its owner’s positive test. Unfortunately, the dog was already dealing with ongoing health issues and has passed away. A second dog was under quarantine and had consistently negative results for the virus. Neither dog had any respiratory symptoms.
  • A 2-year-old German Shepherd, also in Hong Kong, has tested positive for COVID-19, as did the dog’s owner. Another mixed-breed dog in the household has tested negative. Both dogs are currently in quarantine, and neither dog has experienced any respiratory symptoms.
  • A cat in Belgium has tested positive for COVID-19 after her owner’s positive test. The cat had digestive and respiratory issues but recovered nine days after her symptoms manifested.

As a precaution, if you are ill with COVID-19, the CDC recommends that you limit contact with animals until more is known about the virus. They recommend, if possible, that you have someone else care for your pet while you are sick. If you must care for your pet while sick, wash your hands before and after interacting with them.

What can we do?

1. Have at least 2 weeks’ worth of pet food on hand

Pet food companies and suppliers are working hard to make sure food will be available in-store and online. Refill any medications and keep a supply of supplements on hand to limit interactions at the pet store or vet clinic.

2. Pet stores and vet clinics are considered essential business

They are adapting to keep you safe with curbside pickup and delivery options. Pet food and supplies will be available thanks to those businesses — let them know they are appreciated.

3. Have a plan

Identify an emergency caregiver and create a list that includes your veterinarian’s contact information and your pets’ allergies, medications, favorite treats and daily habits.

4. Maintain your daily exercise routine

Exercise and fresh air may help relieve some stress for both you and your pet. Wash your hands before and after playing with your pet or cleaning up their feces. Keep their food and water bowls, bedding and toys clean.

5. Remember pets in need at shelters

Consider donating food, bedding or cleaning supplies. If you can do so safely, walk, foster or adopt a pet. Some shelters are temporarily closing to limit interactions, so bringing home a foster pet could be a great addition to your family during this time.

As we adjust to the new normal, check in — from a safe distance, of course — on your neighbors both with and without pets. Social distancing may keep us apart physically, but connection with the beings we love — whether they have four legs or two — will keep us all healthier and happier. We’re all in this together.


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