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For many of us, our pets are like family.  Recently most of the country has been in quarantine dealing with COVID-19, a coronavirus that has caused a variety of symptoms-some mild and some devastating.  Along the way, our pets have been right there with us adjusting to our “new” work schedules and restricted environments.

We are still learning how COVID-19 is transmitted and how it affects humans.  But what about our beloved pets?  Can they catch COVID-19?  Can our pets spread the virus to us? To each other?

According to the CDC, a small number of pets worldwide have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.  It appears that most of the animals that were infected had very close contact with humans that were also infected with COVID-19.  Of the pets that have gotten the virus, most only had mild symptoms and fully recovered.

So, what should you do to keep your pets safe and healthy?  CDC recommendations state that until we learn more about this virus and how it affects animals, we should treat our pets as we would our human family members.  Suggestions include:

  • Limiting pet interaction with people outside of the family members.
  • Keep cats indoors as much as possible and try not to let them roam freely outside.
  • Walk dogs on leashes, maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others.
  • Avoid large gatherings with your pets.
  • Do not put face coverings on your pets as this could cause harm.

To date, there has been no evidence that the virus can spread to humans via the skin, hair, or fur of pets. Please do not wipe or bathe your pets in anything not approved for animal use, including disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, etc.

If you become sick with COVID-19 (or think you are), restrict contact with your pet just as you would with other humans.  If possible, have another member of your household feed and care for your pet while you are sick.  Avoid physical contact with your pet including petting, snuggling, and sleeping in the same bed.  If you are the only caregiver for your pet and become sick, wear a face mask while preparing food and water and wash your hands before and after.

If your pet does become sick while you have COVID-19, do not take your pet to the vet yourself.  Call your veterinarian and let them know that you have been sick with COVID-19.  Some vet offices are offering telemedicine to help care for sick pets.  Your veterinarian may be able to evaluate your pet and determine the best plan of treatment.

In the US, there is no evidence that animals are contributing to the spread of COVID-19.  Based on the current data, the risk of catching COVID-19 from pets is considered exceptionally low.  For pet owners, good hygiene practices are always useful and necessary.  Pets bring us so much joy – it is our responsibility to keep them as safe and healthy as we keep the rest of our family members.