We've seen some news lately about people abandoning their pets due to fear of catching the Coronavirus from them. It’s important for pet owners to understand the facts surrounding the spread of COVID-19 and what they can do to keep their pets and families safe during this pandemic.
The World Health Organization currently advises there is NO evidence to suggest that dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, at this time, there is NO evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19. They have not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 but further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected.
The World Organization for Animal Health indicates that the current spread of COVID-19 is a result of human to human transmission. To date, there is NO evidence that companion animals can spread the disease. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare. However, because animals and people can sometimes share diseases, it is still recommended that people who are sick with COVID-19 limit contact with companion and other animals until more information is known about the virus.
Can pets help spread the infection between people?
According to the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the answer is YES. Although the risk is low, it is possible for a person with COVID-19 to sneeze on or otherwise contaminate their pet, and then another person could touch that animal and get the disease. COVID-19 survives longer on hard, inanimate surfaces (e.g., glass, metal) than on soft surfaces (e.g., fur, cardboard). Nevertheless, 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.
If you or someone in your household contracts the Coronavirus
According to CDC guidelines, if you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed), you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. This can help ensure both you and your animals stay healthy.
Stay healthy around your pets
Even though there is no evidence in the U.S. to suggest that any animals, including pets, livestock, or wildlife, might be a source of COVID-19 infection, it’s a good idea to practice healthy habits around your pets and other animals.
Wash your hands after handling animals, their food, waste, or supplies.
Practice good pet hygiene and clean up after pets properly.
Take pets to the veterinarian regularly and talk to your veterinarian if you have questions about your pet’s health.
To protect yourself, the CDC recommends the following steps:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds!
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.