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There has been a wide variety of information circulating online and in the media about COVID-19 and pets. I have reviewed material from scientific and veterinary resources, as well as the general media, and have summarized it here. Please remember that we are learning more about COVID-19 every day, and so some of what you read may change.
At the top of many people’s list of questions is can COVID-19 be transmitted from humans to pets and vice versa. There has been news reported out of Hong Kong by the mass media about the possibility of two dogs testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. Two sources that I trust believe that there is no proven risk of direct transmission of COVID-19 between people and pets at this time.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads from humans to humans. There is no research to support human to animal spread at this time. – Science Magazine AAAS, March 12, 2020 – https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/quarantine-cat-disinfect-dog-latest-advice-about-coronavirus-and-your-pets
Currently there is limited evidence that companion animals can be infected with SARS-Cov-2 and no evidence that pet dogs or cats can be a source of infection to other animals or to humans resulting in COVID-19. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available. – WSAVA, March 20, 2020 – https://wsava.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19_WSAVA-Advisory-Document-Mar-19-2020.pdf
Science and the WSAVA offer some excellent advice about how we interact with our pets during this pandemic.
- If you are infected with COVID-19 or are awaiting test results, limit contact with your pets. Wash your hands, and don’t let them lick you on the face. The CDC recommends you avoid petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food with your pet.
- It is best to quarantine your pets away from anyone infected in your home
- Be prepared, in the event you become sick or are quarantined, or worse yet, end up in the hospital. Make sure you have enough food on hand for your pet and that you have someone lined up to care for them if you are unable to do so. Whomever you chose to care for your pet in such an eventuality, make sure they have a plan as well in case they become ill.
Is COVID-19 the same as the coronavirus that infects dogs and cats? – Several types of coronaviruses affect different species, including humans, dogs, cats, and more. Neither the canine nor the feline coronaviruses infect humans.
Can our pets carry COVID-19 even though they are not infected? – The COVID-19 virus can survive on some surfaces for up to 24 hours in a laboratory environment. It may be possible for a pet to carry the COVID-19 virus on their body, leash, or collar. For this reason, it is recommended that no one with the virus handles your pets. A helpful article on this topic comes from Healthy Paws Pet Insurance and can be read at https://www.healthypawspetinsurance.com/blog/2020/03/03/coronavirus-in-dogs-what-to-know-about-covid-19
Can my dog and I still go for walks? – Yes, providing you maintain social distancing and maintain a 6-foot distance from others and use hand sanitizer after all interactions with others.
Help! – Because the whole family is staying home all day with the dog right now, things are getting a little crazy. – If you and your family are not used to being together 24/7, and it’s not typical for your pets(s), things may be stressful for more than one of you. Dr. Zazie Todd recommends; Stick to your routine, Let pets have safe spaces, Supervise pets and children closely (if you cannot supervise, separate), Make more time for play, keep the dog on a short leash when off property, Engage your pets and keep them busy with puzzle toys, and Do some training. ( https://www.companionanimalpsychology.com/2020/03/spending-more-time-with-your-pet-due-to.html ). One thing that Dr. Todd did not mention is ensuring some alone time for your dog. If we are required to stay home for any length of time, your dog could get used to you being there 24/7 and may need some adjustment time when everyone disappears. My article on Alone Training Can be found at http://bit.ly/AloneTraining.
©22MAR20, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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