Pets and COVID-19
As social distancing and quarantining become the norm, we’re all spending a lot more time at home. While working from home and spending more time out of the office brings its own set of adjustments and complications, for pet owners it can mean more time with our furry friends (that aren’t Dave, the slightly-too-hairy office manager). But, for as we spend more time with our pets, the question of whether or not they can be carriers of COVID-19 may be one we all continue to ask as this virus evolves and more data is discovered.
Can My Pet Carry COVID-19?
There’s two answers to that, and both are important things to consider as we walk our animals outside, spend more time with roommates and potentially have occasional visitors. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Organisation for Animal Health have issued advisories saying there is no evidence at this time that companion animals can spread the COVID-19 virus.
The WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) Global Veterinary Community—an association representing more than 200,000 veterinarians—also states that there is no evidence that companion animals can be infected. The association does, however, caution that this is a rapidly evolving situation and updates will be provided as they are received. Unfortunately, with COVID-19 being a “novel” coronavirus, our data is limited in how the virus spreads, evolves and manifests—what that can mean is that, while there are no known cases of domesticated animals contracting the virus, it doesn’t mean it’s not theoretically possible. Viruses have the ability to change over time, and how and who they infect can evolve along with it.
But, people confirmed to have COVID-19 or are showing symptoms should avoid contact not only with other people, but with their pets—especially if those pets also regularly come into contact with roommates, family, friends or you typically take them for a walk in populated areas. This isn’t because they could be carriers internally, but because we typically pet, hug and kiss our animals they could be carriers externally.
What Should I Do With My Pet If I Have COVID-19?
If you think you’re showing symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive, it may be best to get a friend or family member to look over your animal friend until you’re no longer contagious or showing symptoms. If you don’t have anyone to care for your pet, be sure to not share food with them, let them give you kisses or be in close, constant contact with them. When feeding or playing with them, wash your hands before and after handling their food and, if you have to walk them outside, be sure to wear a mask and take proper precautions to ensure you don’t spread the virus to your pet or the public.