Protecting Yourself, Your Pets and the Community from COVID-19

According to the AVMA, “it appears that dogs and cats are not readily infected with SARS-CoV-2, we have little to no evidence that they become ill, and no evidence that those that may be naturally infected spread SARS-CoV-2 to other pets or people.”

What are coronaviruses?

The CDC defines coronaviruses as “a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people.”

How is COVID-19 (coronavirus) spread?

The CDC says the disease is spread to humans through person-to person contact. There have been no reports of pets or livestock spreading the coronavirus in the U.S. However, two dogs (Hong Kong), two cats (Belgium and Hong Kong) and a tiger (Bronx Zoo, New York) have tested positive for COVID-19 in China, these cases are believed to be instances of human-to-animal transmission.

Can I contract the coronavirus from my pet?

While this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source, the CDC believes there’s no reason to think that any animals, including pets in the U.S. might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus. While there have been instances of two dogs (Hong Kong), two cats (Belgium and Hong Kong) and a tiger (Bronx Zoo, New York) testing positive for COVID-19, to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19 to humans. However, since animals can spread other diseases, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands after being around them.

Can my pet contract the coronavirus from an infected person?

The CDC says anyone who is sick with the coronavirus should restrict contact with any animals just like you would around other people. If you or another family member contracts the virus, the CDC recommends having another member of your household care for your animal. Avoid 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 facemask.

Do we need to take extra precautions with animals that have recently been imported from China, or other infected countries?

At this time, there is no evidence that animals or animal products imported from China or other countries pose a risk of spreading coronavirus in the U.S. All animals imported from infected countries will need to meet CDC and USDA requirements for entering the U.S. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread the coronavirus to humans. Any animals recently imported from China or other countries affected by the coronavirus should be observed daily for signs of illness. If an animal becomes ill, the CDC recommends bringing the animal to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Call your local veterinary clinic before bringing the animal into the clinic and let them know that the animal was recently in an infected country.

What about any animal products imported from China, or other infected countries?

There is no evidence currently that any animal products from China, or other infected countries, pose a risk for spreading the coronavirus in the U.S. However, this is a rapidly evolving contagion that the CDC, USDA, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continue to monitor and regulate.

What about the tiger that tested positive at the Bronx Zoo in New York?

According to the AVMA: “On April 5, the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed SARS-CoV-2 in one tiger in a zoo in New York. This is the first instance of a tiger being infected with COVID-19. Samples from the tiger were obtained and tested after several lions and tigers at the zoo showed clinical signs of respiratory illness. Public health officials believe the large cats became sick after exposure to an employee who was actively shedding virus. The zoo was closed in mid-March and the first tiger began showing clinical signs on March 27. All of the large cats are expected to recover and no other animals in the zoo are exhibiting clinical signs of disease. USDA and CDC are continuing to monitor the animals, and state animal and public health officials will determine whether other animals, at this zoo or in other areas, should be tested for SARS-CoV-2. The OIE will also be notified.”

Is there a vaccination I can give my pet to prevent the coronavirus?

Not yet, according to the World Health Organization. Any animal showing serious symptoms need to be seen by a veterinarian.

Should I buy a facemask for my pet?

The WHO says there’s currently no evidence that facemasks will help prevent your pet from contracting the disease. The best way to stop the spread of the coronavirus is to take care of yourself first.

The best way to protect your pets from the coronavirus is by doing the following

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Disinfect all surfaces that are frequently used.
  • Vaccinate your pets for all other potential diseases, as recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Limit contact with your pets if you or someone you are close to contracts the coronavirus.