With threats of a COVID-19 pandemic spreading, we are all taking precautions to keep our pets, our families, and our community safe. To learn about the new policies we have implemented to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, check out our website for updates. For answers to common questions about COVID-19 and how it may affect your pet, read on.
Question: What is COVID-19?
Answer: COVID-19 is a newly discovered strain of coronavirus that first appeared in Wuhan, China, late last year. Classified as a betacoronavirus, similar to MERS and SARS, COVID-19 appears to have originated from bats, with the first human case caused by an animal-to-human transmission in a large seafood and live animal market. Currently, COVID-19 is transmitted only through person-person contact, and is rapidly spreading across the world, causing fever, coughing, sore throat, and difficulty breathing.
Q: Is it true that pets can get coronaviruses, too?
A: Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness in a variety of species, including cats, dogs, birds, horses, pigs, and people. These viruses tend to be species-specific, although a few strains can be zoonotic, meaning they can jump from animals to people; however, feline and canine coronaviruses are not zoonotic, meaning you cannot get coronavirus from your pets. Dogs can develop two common forms that affect the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts, causing either self-limiting diarrhea, or respiratory illness that is often paired with kennel cough cases. Cats can be affected by the enteric coronavirus form, causing mild diarrhea, but feline coronavirus can develop into feline infectious peritonitis in rare cases.
Q: If my pet can get a coronavirus, can she also get COVID-19?
A: Currently, several leading agencies in human and animal health have stated there is no evidence to indicate that pets can become ill from COVID-19. This particular strain is spread by person-to-person contact, and does not appear to infect any other species. As coronaviruses are mostly species-specific viruses, this holds true with the norm for this virus.
Q: What happened with the dog I read about who tested positive for COVID-19?
A: Nasal and oral samples from a dog in Hong Kong tested weakly positive for COVID-19 after his owner fell ill. But, while quarantined, the dog exhibited zero illness signs, and eventually all his samples tested negative, leading to the statement from major health organizations that pets cannot become ill from COVID-19.
Q: Can I get my pet tested for COVID-19?
A: Since pets do not appear to become ill from COVID-19, or serve as a human infection source, leading health authorities do not recommend testing pets for COVID-19. A major veterinary laboratory, IDEXX, evaluated thousands of canine and feline samples, and found no positive results, further supporting that healthy pets do not need to be tested for COVID-19.
Q: Can my pet transmit COVID-19 to a person?
A: The most common COVID-19 transmission method is person-to-person contact. If an infected person coughs nearby, you will likely become infected if you inhale the virus-containing respiratory droplets. A less common transmission method is through contact with contaminated smooth surfaces, such as countertops and door handles. Porous objects, such as money and pet fur, are made up of fibrous materials that trap the pathogen inside, making disease transmission by pets difficult.
Q: What should I do if my pet becomes ill after exposure to someone with COVID-19?
A: If your pet displays any illness signs, such as coughing, sneezing, fever, or lethargy, contact us. As your pet is highly unlikely to have contracted COVID-19, we will rule out common causes for respiratory disease first.
Q: What should I do if my pet needs veterinary care, but I am sick?
A: If you are ill, and your pet becomes sick or injured, contact us for guidance. You will also need to contact your local public health official for help with transporting your pet to our care, as they can provide assistance in minimizing infection.
Q: How can I keep my pet and family safe from COVID-19?
A: Follow these instructions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to stay healthy:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after touching your pet, for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid snuggling, hugging, kissing, or sharing food with your pet, if you are ill.
- Stay at least six feet from other people, to minimize your risk for inhaling infective respiratory droplets.
- Stay home if possible, and create mentally stimulating games for your pet, rather than taking your normal walk around the neighborhood.
Q: How can I stay updated with the most current COVID-19 information?
A: As with most hot topics, the internet is rife with misinformation and opinions. While friends’ opinions are great for helping you choose an outfit, they’re not the best for scientific data. Avoid the hassle of weeding through COVID-19 inaccuracies by sticking with reputable animal and human health organizations, including:
For any further questions about the COVID-19’s development, or how it may affect your pet,contact us.