COVID-19 FAQ for Pet Owners (as of 3/2020)
**Due to the active COVID-19 cases, we will be limiting patient care to acutely ill animals and/or emergencies. At this time we will not be scheduling elective procedures such as annual exam, spays/neuters, vaccinations and routine dentals. Animals that are sick or injured should receive veterinary attention.**
As part of our commitment to a safe, clean and welcoming environment for our clients and staff, we wanted to update you on the steps we are taking to help protect against the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Here's what we've done:
Reinforced our existing training on effective handwashing and using personal protective equipment.
Increased our sanitation procedures. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
Staff members who are sick will stay home from work.
Is It True That A Dog Tested Positive For The Coronavirus, COVID-19?
Yes. The dog, a Pomeranian, is owned by a woman who fell ill with the virus and who was hospitalized. Healthcare officials tested swabs of the dog’s nose and mouth for signs of COVID-19 and the results were a weak positive. Leading health officials stressed that it was extremely unlikely that the dog could serve as a source of infection to others, but the dog was still quarantined.
Can My Dog Transmit COVID-19 To Me If He Encounters A Person Infected With The Virus?
The Center For Disease Control has issued guidelines for how pet owners should interact with their pets if they believe that they are sick with the virus or if their pet is exposed to others who have the virus. These are precautionary directives because there is still not enough information about the COVID-19 virus. However, every leading healthcare organization has stressed that risk of transmission from a dog or a cat is extremely low. If transmission were to occur, it is most likely that the pet would carry the virus from one part of the environment to another. An extreme example might be that a sick individual coughs into his or her hand, pets an animal, and then another healthy individual touches the same part of animal, and then somehow gets the virus from his or her hand into an eye, nose, or mouth. Please remember that this is an extreme example and that there is only one documented case in the world of a pet that has tested positive for COVID-19.
I Heard That There is A Dog Vaccine For The Coronavirus. Is This True?
The vaccine that you have read about is for another coronavirus, not COVID-19. There are hundreds of corona viruses that routinely infect all kinds of animals including people, dogs, cats, birds, and pocket pets. They typically cause diarrhea and other mild-to-moderate symptoms. In very rare instances, they can be transmitted from one species to another. It is very unlikely that dogs or cats can become infected with COVID-19.
What Do Veterinarians Recommend That Pet Owners Do During The COVID-19 Outbreak?
There is no evidence that dogs or cats can transmit COVID-19 to humans, or that humans can transmit the virus to their pets. Still, the CDC recommends that pet owners who are infected with COVID-19, restrict contact with their pet if they believe they are infected. According to the CDC:
“You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask.”
The CDC makes this recommendation because it is still concerned that pets can act like a living fomite, or carrier of the disease on its skin, fur, nose, or paws, without actually being sick with the disease. Interestingly, fomites are a big source of infection from one patient to another in hospitals and one of the reasons why hospitals have strict guidelines when passing from one part of the hospital into an isolation ward. Our staff members must don masks, gloves, aprons, and special shoe covers before entering isolation, and then leave all these protective clothing pieces in the isolation ward before treading across a disinfectant barrier and reentering the main hospital. Currently there are no patients in our isolation ward or disease outbreaks in our area that warrant isolation.
Is It Okay To Travel With My Pet To Parts Of The World Where There Is An Outbreak?
Pets traveling domestically or internationally have to meet certain requirements established by the Department of Agriculture. There are no additional requirements that we recommend for your
pet during the outbreak of COVID-19.
Should I Get A Face Mask For My Dog?
No. Regular face masks don’t work to prevent infection of COVID-19 in people and they certainly won’t work with your dog (or cat). At best, regular face masks limit transmission from sick individuals to healthy ones.
Should I Stockpile Pet Care Essentials In The Event of An Outbreak?
It may be a good idea to buy at least 2-4 week’s worth of dog or cat food, cat litter, and other essential pet supplies provided you can keep the items free from spoilage and responsibly stored. There may be disruptions in supply chains or travel restrictions during an outbreak that prevent you from getting your pet’s supplies as you are used to. Additionally, if you fall ill, you will want to restrict your own travel to keep others safe.