COVID-19 and pets

Updated 4/29 

We have added the following information to address the  questions we are receiving.  Please note, we are not health experts; we also recommend checking with the CDC and WHO websites for the most updated information.

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What should I do now if I am a pet owner at high risk for the virus?

1. In an abundance of caution, wash your hands as often as possible, including after handling your pets.


2. We strongly urge all pet owners, but especially those who are elderly  owners or who suffer from chronic health issues, to set up contingency plans for their pets urgently.   Is there a family member or trusted friend who could care for your pet should you fall ill?  Please speak to them NOW and have plans in place so that your pet can be cared for immediately should you become ill.    


3. For elderly, high risk or even single pet owners, we  recommend putting together written information about your pet, what food  she eats, what vet she sees, plus a listing of any medications or medical issues she has.  Add the name and phone number of the person who has agreed to be  caretaker.   Leave this in an envelope in a conspicuous place in your home, writing something like "Pet information in case of emergency" on the outside of the envelope. 

Can pets spread the Corona Virus?

According to the World Health Organization, there is still no evidence that animals can infect humans with the virus.  The WHO states, "currently, there is no evidence that pets such as dogs and cats have infected humans with Covid-19.”


However, pets can be a 'fomite,' meaning they can temporarily be contaminated with the virus germs if they are sneezed or coughed on (similar to if a handkerchief was sneezed or coughed upon).


We strongly recommend increased hand washing at this time, including after handling your pets. 

Can pets get the Corona Virus?

Experts  believe that animals can catch the virus from humans, but that they are likely not spreading the virus to humans.   The first animal in North America to test positive was a tiger at the Bronx zoo.  The first known pets in North America to test positive for the virus are two pet cats in New York and a dog in North Carolina.   For more information, please see this article:   https://www.cbsnews.com/news/north-carolina-dog-tests-positive-coronavirus-pug/  Happily, it is believed that all of the animals infected thus far will recover fully.

 

One note about transmission: previously, it had been presumed  that animals got the virus from an infected human family member.  The cats in New York were living in households where none of the family members knowingly had the virus;  it is still undetermined how they caught COVID-19 (the presumption is that one of their family members had a mild case and did not know it).  


There is still NO evidence that infected pets can give the virus to a human;  most experts agree that it is very unlikely that pets can serve as route for spreading COVID-19.  However, all agree that increased hand washing and vigilance even around one's own pets is important now. 

What if I am a pet owner and become ill?

According to the AVMA it’s recommended that those ill with COVID-19 limit contact with their animals until more information is known about the virus. 


Have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding, and playing with your pet. If you have a service animal or you must care for your pet, then wear a facemask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with them. 


If the owner of the pet is hospitalized, it is best to keep the pet in the home and quarantined for 14 days versus moving the animal. If that is not possible then your local animal control could help determine a boarding facility or shelter. 


If your household is affected by COVID-19 and you need emergency boarding or vet care for your pet there are grants available:

Vet Care: https://redrover.org/relief/

Boarding: https://redrover.org/relief/emergency-boarding-grants/

Can pets be tested for COVID-19?

Yes.   In fact, Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine is currently looking for participants for a study.  For more information, please click the button below.