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Coronavirus and your pet

April 27, 2020

For many of us, our everyday lives have changed dramatically, suddenly, as the coronavirus pandemic has swept the world, crossing continents, invading communities large and small.

Although there are hundreds of existing coronaviruses in humans and animals, this brand-new “novel” coronavirus has never been seen before and has proven to be highly contagious among humans.

It is only natural that people question if their dogs and cats are also at risk. Diseases spread from animals to people are called “zoonotic.”

At this time there are no confirmed reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States. There is no information that suggests dogs or cats might be a source of infection to people.

In case you might need to be home-quarantined, please keep at least two weeks of pet food and your pets’ medication(s) on hand at home.

Veterinarians are essential workers and most clinics are open to help you. Call your veterinarian if you need advance medication.

Should you test positive, have arrangements in place to limit your contact with your pet(s) just as you would limit contact with other family members. It is recommended that you not pet, kiss, hug, or share food with your pet during your quarantine period.

If you have a service animal (please refer to CDC guidelines for definition of service animals) or you, yourself, must care for your pets, please wear a cloth face covering and try to minimize contact, washing your hands well before and after pet contact.

You should not share any dishes, drinking glasses, towels, clothing or bedding with your pets during this time.

The coronavirus is primarily spread from an infected person’s bodily fluids, like saliva or mucous when they cough or sneeze.

Secondary transmission is possible if you touch a countertop or surface that is moist with infected sneeze or cough droplets. A smooth, nonporous surface like a countertop transmits better than a porous and fibrous surface like pet fur.

Again, at this time, per the CDC, there is no evidence that companion animal pets can spread the coronavirus to people. Pets are an important part of our lives and give joy and comfort, especially during a time of home isolation.

There is no reason, at the moment, to remove pets from a coronavirus positive house unless the owner becomes too sick to care for the pet and no other family member is available.

Should the owner be unable to care for a pet, and has no family to take it in, then the community will need to step in to help. Contact your veterinarian, a local Humane Animal group or your local Animal Shelter for service under these extreme circumstances.

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