What’s happening in our world today is unprecedented. COVID-19 coronavirus has brought our modern American lives to a screeching halt. Oftentimes, it comes with fear and uncertainty for us, our families, and our pets. Even though many stores are closed, pet care is an essential business. Therefore, pet care like grooming and doggy daycare services are staying open when other facilities may be closed.
Here’s more good news. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), we do not need to fear cuddles with our fur-babies. Pets do not spread the COVID-19 coronavirus to each other, nor to humans. So, if you have taken them out of doggy day care to prevent the spread fo COVID-19, it is unnecessary. You dogs need play time as much as you need them to burn off excess energy.
Pets & Quarantine
For responsible pet owners, preparing in advance is key. Make sure you have an emergency kit prepared, with at least two weeks’ worth of your pet’s food and any needed medications. Usually we think about emergency kits like this in terms of what might be needed for an evacuation, but it’s also good to have one prepared in the case of quarantine or self-isolation when you cannot leave your home.
While we are recommending these as good practices, it is important to remember that there is currently no evidence that pets can spread COVID-19 to other domestic animals, including people. Accordingly, there is no reason to remove pets from homes where COVID-19 has been identified in members of the household, unless there is risk that the pet itself is not able to be cared for appropriately. In this emergency, pets and people each need the support of the other and veterinarians are there to support the good health of both.
Questions & Answers about COVID-19
Q: Can pets serve as fomites in the spread of COVID-19?
A: COVID-19 appears to be primarily transmitted by contact with an infected person’s bodily secretions, such as saliva or mucus droplets in a cough or sneeze. COVID-19 might be able to be transmitted by touching a contaminated surface or object (i.e., a fomite) and then touching the mouth, nose, or possibly eyes, but this appears to be a secondary route. Smooth (non-porous) surfaces (e.g., countertops, door knobs) transmit viruses better than porous materials (e.g., paper money, pet fur), because porous, and especially fibrous, materials absorb and trap the pathogen (virus), making it harder to contract through simple touch. Because your pet’s hair is porous and also fibrous, it is very unlikely that you would contract COVID-19 by petting or playing with your pet. However, because animals can spread other diseases to people and people can also spread diseases to animals, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands before and after interacting with animals; ensure your pet is kept well-groomed; and regularly clean your pet’s food and water bowls, bedding material, and toys.
Q: What should I do if my pet or service animal becomes ill after being around someone who has been sick with COVID-19?
A: Contact your veterinarian before you bring your pet or service animal to the clinic. You should tell them why you are concerned about your animal being ill (e.g., what clinical signs of illness you are seeing) and also that the animal has been exposed to someone who has been sick with COVID-19. Advance notice will help your veterinarian determine whether your animal needs to be seen immediately and, if so, will support the veterinary clinic/hospital in preparing for the proper admittance of that animal, including the preparation of an isolation area as needed. Do not take the animal to a veterinary clinic until you have consulted with your veterinarian. And, of course, a telemedicine consult should be considered as an option as well. Remember, currently we have no evidence that pets become ill with COVID-19 or that they can spread the disease. If you pet is ill there is most likely a different cause for that illness.