Can Dogs and Cats Get COVID-19?
IDEXX Labs, a US Veterinary Services Company, announced on March 13 that it had evaluated thousands of dog and cats, and to date no pets or other domestic animals have been reported to have COVID-19. There is also no evidence that domestic animals, including pets and livestock, can spread this virus. Many domestic animals have their own version of coronavirus that they may contract as young animals, but these viruses are generally species-specific.
You may also wonder if animals can act as a carrier for the virus. What if a person who has COVID-19 coughs around their animals, pets them, etc., leading to respiratory droplets getting on the animal’s fur? Could someone who then pets the animal and then touches their face contract the virus? Because your pet’s hair is porous and fibrous, it is very unlikely that you would contract COVID-19 by petting or playing with your pet. Please remember that the current expert understanding is that this virus is primarily transmitted from person-to-person. However, because animals can spread other diseases to people and people can also spread diseases to animals, it’s a good idea to always wash your hands before and after interacting with animals. Make sure your pet is kept well-groomed. Regularly clean your pet’s food and water bowls, bedding material, and toys.
Can They Pass It to Us?
There are no reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, but it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known. If possible, you should have someone else care for your pet if you’re sick with COVID-19. If you must handle your pet while sick, the CDC recommends washing your hands before and after you interact with your pet and to wear a face mask if you have one. Avoid petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food with your pet while you are sick. Once again, be sure to wash your hands before and after interacting with animals. To date, there have not been any reports of pets contracting COVID-19.
Make sure that you are not letting your pets out to play with other animals, letting them sniff other animals, or letting other people in your home. Keep two weeks of pet food on hand. Be sure to get all medications that are needed from your vet.
Veterinary Clinics should follow the same guidelines used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to the staff and patients listed below.
- Adhere to the social distancing space of staying 6 feet away from one another.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, going to the bathroom, and before eating.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Stay At Home When Sick
Surfaces in the veterinary clinic that are touched frequently, such as workstations, keyboards, doorknobs, countertops, and stethoscopes, should be cleaned often and wiped down by employees with disposable wipes between cleanings. Provide no-touch disposal trash cans. Place hand sanitizers in multiple locations, including in exam rooms, offices, and conference rooms so they are readily available to all.
If a client is ill and their animal needs to be seen urgently, there are some options. Ask if someone else could bring the animal to the clinic. If the owner is unable to find another person to bring the animal to the clinic, the use of telemedicine is a good option. Consider meeting clients with ill animals at their cars, rather than having them bring those animals into your waiting room. Be sure to wear appropriate PPE. Mobile and house call veterinarians can consider examining animals in their vehicle, outside, or using telemedicine if the pet is already a patient.