With Coronavirus (COVID-19) turning our lives upside down, people are understandably scared. There are a lot of unknowns and the facts seem to be changing by the minute. As a pet owner you are likely wondering about COVID-19 and your pets. Can they be effected? Can they give you the virus? What should you look for? Rest assured your pet is safe.
What is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are actually a large family of viruses named for their shape. There are a number of strains known to cause various symptoms in a different species. Canine coronavirus disease, for example, causes intestinal upset. Feline coronavirus can be completely asymptomatic. These are typically nonfatal and not a threat to humans
The strain causing concern is a novel strain known as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the first infections were linked to a live animal market in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The exact source is unknown but may have started with bats and have been passed to humans through an intermediate host. Symptoms of COVID-19 in humans include fever and a dry cough.
Can Your Pet Contract COVID-19?
The CDC believes COVID-19 may be spread to pets in very few, isolated cases. This has been seen in tigers at the Bronx Zoo, two domestic cats and most recently, a pug. Some of these animals remained asymptomatic while others (one of the cats and some of the large cats at the Bronx Zoo) experienced mild respiratory symptoms and have made a full recovery.
IDEXX, a leading provider of diagnostic products and services to veterinary practices, has “reviewed over 5,000 specimens submitted to IDEXX Reference Laboratories for respiratory tests of sick cats and dogs in 17 different countries. To date, IDEXX has seen no positive results in pets of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus strain responsible for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) respiratory outbreak in humans.”
To summarize, pets are thought to be at an extremely low risk of catching COVID-19 and the few that tested positive have made a full recovery. At this time, there is no evidence that pets are capable of spreading COVID-19 to humans.
How Can Your Protect Your Pet From Coronavirus?
The easiest way to keep your family and pets safe from Caronavirus is to practice good hygiene and social distancing. While it appears unlikely your pet can be infected with the disease, it is possible they can pick it up from the environment and then bring it back to your and your family.
For example, if you take Fido to the dog park and a person who is shedding the virus coughs or sneezes on your pup, the virus may remain viable be on their fur. If you bring Fido home and kiss him on the head later, you are unknowingly exposing yourself. Consider staying home from the park for a while and keeping at least a six-foot distance from others on your walks.
Similarly, if you need care for your pets during this time, be to sure to hire a professional company with proper sanitation protocols in place. A dog walker or pet sitter may be a great option to avoid exposing your dog or cat to other animals and numerous staff members as often experienced in a boarding or daycare facility.
How to Care For Your Pet During a Quarantine
Even if it is unlikely for your pet to be effected by COVID-19, your pets can certainly be effected by the current “Stay Stay Safe, Stay Home” orders or a shortage of food. Consider creating a disaster preparedness kit and first aid kit for your pet. Locate your nearest emergency vet in case your veterinarian must shorten their hours or limits services. Having enough of their food, medication and other supplies will be crucial to keep them comfortable during a serious change in routine.
For your health (and sanity!), be sure you are following credible news sources during this hectic time. The CDC and WHO are two excellent resources. We will be posting updates regarding COVID-19 and your pet on our Facebook page to help keep concerned pet parent’s informed.
RCO, COVID-19 and Your Pets
We know this is a scary time for all and we are here to support you and your fur family the best we can. If you are healthy and still heading to work or are working from home, we are happy to provide daily dog walking services at this time. If you are traveling to be with family and have not been exposed to the virus, we will still provide our standard gold-standard pet care. We’ve got your tail and are monitoring the situation closely for the safety of our clients and sitters.