Pets and COVID-19: All You Need To Know
Posted on March 28 2020
With the world in the midst of a pandemic, the Internet is full of information about Coronavirus. As a pet owner, you will be wondering whether or not your furry companion can become infected or not. Unfortunately there are hundreds of different conflicting stories and messages floating around the Internet. In this article we will give an informed and unbiased look at what it being said, sourcing our information from only the most reliable sources online.
Pet Parents and Coronavirus
As a pet parent, you have a responsibility to your furry companion. Depending on where you live, you may still be able to go out and walk your dog freely; you may however already be under lockdown. But, with your pet needing exercise, so many questions will be cropping up in your mind. Should you take your dog out at all? Are there any preventative measures you can take? Can your pet actually contract the virus?
DogTime magazine spoke to the Chief Veterinary Office of North American Veterinary Community, Dr. Dana Varble. Here’s what the magazine reported. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention,) there is no evidence that dogs and other pet companions can spread COVID-19. Dr. Varble stated that it is highly unlikely that household pets can transmit coronavirus, or indeed become infected. Practicing good hygiene can help ensure this information stays correct. Washing hands and not allowing our pets to kiss our faces are two good preventative measures.
Also ensure you have enough pet supplies at home to last at least two weeks; this should include food, medication, cat litter, etc. Up to date vaccinations will also ensure the overall good health of your pet is sustained. If your pet appears to be ill, contact your local veterinary surgery. Depending on the region you live in, your vet may only be open for emergency calls or for home visits. So, before leaving the house, call your local vet for advice on what to do.
What the WHO is saying
As we said before, you will find a lot of contradictory information on the Internet. The latest from the WHO suggests that pets may actually be able to contract coronavirus.
Only days ago, the myth-buster page from the WHO suggested that there was no evidence to suggest that animals could become infected. However, this has since been changed; see here to check out what’s new. This change in view follows a dog that has been tested positive for COVID-19 in Hong Kong. The latest statement from the WHO now states that there is no evidence that cats and dogs have infected humans with the virus. The owner of the dog had previously tested positive for the virus, and had been living for 2 weeks in isolation with the owner. Quarantining pets is now no longer being ruled out in the attempt to stop the pandemic.
FAQ for Pet Owners
Below are some of the most common questions pet owners across the globe are asking about Pets and Coronavirus.
- Can Dogs Contract the Virus? At this time it is thought to be unlikely your dog will contract the virus. The Who recently modified its statement regarding the likelihood of pets contracting Covid-19 after one isolated case was found in Hong Kong.
- Can Pets transmit the virus to people? It is indeed possible that a pet could transmit the virus from one human to another. One person with the virus could sneeze and contaminate their pet. Another person who currently has tested negative could then go on to touch the pet, contracting the disease in this manner. To avoid this scenario, people who have tested positive should be quarantined from both other human beings and pets in their household.
- I have tested positive. How should I care for my pet? If you have symptoms or have tested positive, you should practice commonsense. This includes self-isolation where possible, wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently, and minimizing contact with both humans and animals. Limiting contact with your animals should be as important as it is with other humans. Where at all possible, ensure another family member takes care of the day-to-day duties of looking after your animals. Ensure you have enough supplies together for another person to take over the immediate care of your pet for at least 2 weeks. Should you need to take your pet to the vet, organize for another family member to do so; phone first to check the availability of appointments.
- Precautions for animals recently imported from areas deemed to be high-risk. All animals that are imported into the US will need to meet both USDA and CDC requirements. Recently imported animals should be closely observed for signs of the illness.
- Do I need a designated emergency caregiver? It is a good idea to identify someone who could, in the event of you contracting the virus, take over the day-to-day care of your pet. If you don’t have a family member or friend who can do this for you, make sure you have the contact number for a local boarding facility. Keep all the information you have for your pet such as their vaccination booklet in one place, so in the event of a takeover of care being necessary, you have everything to hand.
More Pet Care Tips
As your pets are considered as members of your family, it’s only right to consider them when preparing for a crisis situation. If you are currently on lockdown, your dog will probably be really happy to have you at home with him all day long. But, you do need to be considering a game plan.
Let’s recap on just what you need to have, as a responsible pet parent:
- Adequate food, medication, and supplements for your pet. Your supplies should last two weeks, or ideally, four.
- Always have a contingency plan; someone who can take over caring for your pet if you can’t.
- Look for ways to entertain your pet indoors. Your pet needs to stay engaged both mentally and physically. Depending on the size of your house, you could play hide and seek with them, of chase the laser point.
- Potty time. If you are not allowed to exercise your dog outside, or fear the worst if you take your pet out, use an indoor potty. Pee pads can be used for enclosed spaces; if you have a yard, simply border one area of that can be used as a potty.
- Keep to a schedule. Just because you are at home, it doesn’t mean that your schedule should end. It is easy to over-feed both yourself as well as your pet as the boredom associated with staying at home sets in.
- If you feel unwell, quarantine yourself from your pets. Try to avoid close contact such as kisses and snuggles. If at all possible, hand your pet over to a designated caregiver. If your pet becomes sick, call your vet immediately. Always plan for medical emergencies; both for yourself and your pet. Keep medical records where you can find them and make sure your pet’s vaccines are up to date.
- Lastly. Stay Calm. Your pet will pick up on your nervous energy. He will already be noticing the difference with having you at home all day. If you do become anxious, practice some deep breathing; it will be soothing both to yourself and your furry companion.