Is my pet at risk from the COVID-19, or will my pet infect me?
According to the World Health Organisation, the answer is NO. There is no evidence to suggest that dogs or cats have become ill with this virus; or will become a source of infection of COVID-19 in other animals or humans.
In late February, Hong Kong authorities quarantined a dog. Samples from the dog’s nasal cavity and mouth had tested “weak positive” for the virus. The dog’s owner had tested positive for COVID-19. The dog did not show signs of illness. Authorities believe it is a case of human to animal transmission but stress that it is not cause for alarm.
It’s important to remember that viruses can sometimes infect a species; but not cause illness in that species, nor become transmissible to others. Again, it is not believed that pets such as cats or dogs can pass COVID-19 to humans.
If, for instance, your dog is usually at home and doesn’t contact other dogs or people and no one in your household has COVID-19; the odds that your pet would become infected are highly unlikely.
If you have COVID-19, you should restrict your contact with pets and other animals; just like you would with other people. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. Avoid direct contact with pets, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick; wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a face mask as directed by your physician.
It is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets. It helps to avoid transmission of more common illness-causing agents, such as E. coli and Salmonella.
What should I do if I think I am sick but my pet needs veterinary care?
If you contract this illness or have symptoms consistent with this infection and your pet needs veterinary care; please CALL your veterinary clinic or emergency veterinary hospital first. They may be able to accommodate your situation by coming out to your car to transport your pet into the clinic for an examination. The veterinary can communicate with you via phone regarding the diagnosis and treatment plan. They may also have other options for you, so that your pet can receive needed care during this time.
To protect your pet from respiratory diseases, vaccinate your pet for Bordetella, parainfluenza and canine influenza, which are the most common vaccine-preventable respiratory diseases in pets.
Your veterinarian can help you determine which vaccines your pet should have, based on its risk factors.
What is the best way to protect myself and my family (human and pet) from the COVID-19 coronavirus?
Practical measures to protect yourself and your family from this or any other contagious respiratory illness include:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Whenever soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol.
- Watch a video about the WHO’s recommended hand washing technique.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick or have a fever.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Maintain more personal space between you and other people than you might usually.
- Vaccinate your pets as recommended by your veterinarian.
- Were you to become ill with the COVID-19 coronavirus, please wear a well-fitted mask to help prevent the spread of the virus and limit contacts with other humans and your pets as recommended by your physician.
- If you are ill and your pet needs veterinary care, please call your veterinarian or emergency clinic first.
- Check in with older/elderly people, you know. Make sure they have necessary food, medications and supplies, including for their pets.