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Coronavirus and Pets: FAQs for Owners

Quarantine the cat? Disinfect the dog? The latest advice about the coronavirus and your pets.

Can dogs and cats get the new coronavirus (COVID-19)?
At this time, experts believe it is very unlikely. The World Health Organization currently advises that there is no evidence to suggest that dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. The OIE states there is no evidence that dogs play a role in the spread of this disease or that they become sick. The CDC also seconds that opinion, stating that, “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19.”
 
Although pets cannot become sick from COVID-19, could they serve as a conduit of infection between people?
Yes. It is possible that a person with COVID-19 could sneeze or otherwise contaminate their pet, and then another individual could touch that animal and contract the disease. Veterinary experts believe the risk for transmission would be low. However, animals living with sick individuals should be kept away from other people and animals (quarantined at home), just as people who live with sick individuals must avoid contact with others.
 
Is there a COVID-19 vaccine for dogs and cats?
There is no vaccine for COVID-19 for people or animals at this time.
Veterinarians are familiar with other coronaviruses. Similar but different coronavirus species  cause several common diseases in domestic animals. Many dogs, for example, are vaccinated for another species of coronavirus (Canine Coronavirus) as puppies. However, this vaccine does not cross protect for COVID-19.
 
What animal did COVID-19 originate from?
Current research suggests that horseshoe bats are the reservoir species and the virus originated from that species as well. Previous human coronavirus outbreaks, SARS and MERS, originated in bats but passed through other species, such as the palm civet and camels.
 
If I am diagnosed with Covid-19, how do I protect my pet?
Since your pet is at minimal risk of COVID-19 infection there are no specific steps needed to protect them from infection. However, pets can have the virus ON THEM if they are in an environment with a large quantity of the virus and could serve to be a source of the virus for other people, including family members.  Therefore, to protect other people and yourself, the CDC recommends that you restrict contact with pets if you are sick with COVID-19, just as you would restrict your contact with other people. Avoid snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must interact with your pet, wash your hands before and after, and wear a face mask.
 
Should my pet wear a face mask in public?
No. Face masks may not protect your pet from disease transmission and may cause other breathing difficulties.
 
How do I protect my pet and myself from COVID-19?

Since your pet is at minimal risk of COVID-19 infection there are no specific steps needed to protect them from infection. To protect yourself the CDC recommends the following steps:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds!
  • Wear a mask in public area whatever you are sick or not.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and then throw it away.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Voluntary home isolation: If you are ill with symptoms of respiratory disease, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills or fatigue, stay home. The CDC recommends that you remain at home until at least 24 hours after you are free of fever (100 degrees F) or signs of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • Veterinary practices should designate their clinic as a temporary NO HANDSHAKE ZONE. Ask colleagues and clients to refrain from shaking hands.
 
Source: College of Veterinary Medicine
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