2020 has been intense. From Tiger King to COVID-19, this year has seen more than its fair share of unprecedented events. While we can’t explain Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin, we can clear up any confusion you may have about COVID-19 and pets. As more information is discovered about the novel coronavirus (i.e., SARS-CoV-2), our team will keep you posted. Brush up on your pandemic knowledge by checking out the following key facts you should know about COVID-19 and your pet.
#1: Your pet is highly unlikely to develop COVID-19 signs or become ill
Only a few pets have been confirmed infected with the novel coronavirus. Some pets did not show any illness, but those pets who did get sick had mild disease that could be treated at home. No pets have died from the infection. If your pet has been around a person infected with the virus, they may—although it’s extremely unlikely—develop the following coronavirus signs:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Runny nose
- Eye discharge
If you suspect your pet has been exposed to the virus and may have developed associated illness signs, contact us immediately.
#2: Your pet should practice social distancing
Although pets apparently cannot directly transmit SARS-CoV-2 to people, there is a slight risk that people with COVID-19 can spread the virus to animals. Therefore, the CDC recommends pet owners limit their pet’s interaction with anyone outside your household. Other tips include:
- Keep cats indoors and do not let them roam freely outside.
- Walk dogs on a leash at least six feet from others.
- Avoid public places where large numbers of people gather.
- Refrain from taking your dog to the pet store or dog park.
- Do not put a mask on pets, especially flat-faced breeds (e.g., pugs, bulldogs, Boston terriers), as this will restrict their breathing and do more harm than good.
#3: The coronavirus cannot spread to people from pets’ skin, fur, or hair
While many diseases can easily spread through indirect transmission, this method appears limited with the novel coronavirus. No evidence has been found that the virus can be spread from a pet’s skin, fur, or hair to people, but it can be transmitted by contact with a contaminated surface. The main transmission method is through inhalation of respiratory droplets, which can also land on surfaces and objects and be transferred by touching the contaminated surface and then the eyes, nose, or mouth. Although no evidence shows that pet fur can transmit the virus, collars, leashes, bowls, and bedding appear to harbor SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, do not wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, or other industrial or surface cleaners.
#4: Studies are underway to learn how SARS-CoV-2 affects animals
Little is known about how the novel coronavirus affects people and animals and, while a few studies are now available, many more are underway. Recent research shows that:
- Ferrets, cats, and golden Syrian hamsters can be infected with the virus, and spread the infection to other animals of the same species in laboratory settings.
- Rhesus macaques, cynomolgus macaques, Grivets, and common marmosets can become infected with SARS-CoV-2 and become sick in a laboratory setting.
- Mice, pigs, chickens, and ducks do not seem to become infected or spread the infection.
- Some dogs can become infected, but do not seem to spread the virus to other dogs as easily as cats and ferrets spread the infection to their own species.
Keep in mind that these findings were based on a small number of animals, and do not show whether animals can spread infection to people. Take proper precautions to limit potential transmission until more is known about how this disease spreads and affects different species.
#5: If you are infected with SARS-CoV-2, maintain good hygiene around your pet
Although your furry companion is at low risk for contracting the novel coronavirus from you, the threat still exists. So, take every possible precaution around your pet, as you would around people if you became ill, including:
- Have someone else care for your pet.
- Wash your hands before and after feeding, cleaning, and caring for your pet.
- Minimize contact with your pet.
- Wear a mask when caring for your pet.
If your pet becomes ill while you are sick with COVID-19, do not bring your cat or dog to Colony Veterinary Hospital yourself. Call us to discuss the best way to treat your pet while minimizing the potential exposure risk.
#6: Check for the latest pandemic protocols prior to your pet’s appointment
To keep our team, your family, and our community safe, we are currently practicing strict curbside care. When you stay in your car while we examine and treat your pet, we can reduce the spread of COVID-19, and still provide them with high quality care. We ask that you do not enter our hospital if any of the following conditions apply:
- You have a fever or cough, or have been exposed to someone who does
- You have traveled by air in the past two weeks
- You have been out of the country or on a cruise ship in the past two weeks
- You have been exposed to someone who is symptomatic
- You have traveled to a high-infection area of the U.S.
As the COVID-19 pandemic remains a threat to our San Diego community, our Colony Veterinary Hospital team will continue to keep you and your family safe, while providing gold-standard care for your beloved pet. If your furry pal requires veterinary care during these troubling times, give us a call to schedule an appointment.