Caring for Your Pets During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Understandably, pet owners are concerned about the COVID-19 outbreak and how it may impact their beloved furry family members. This blog includes some information shared on the websites of some locally, nationally and internationally well-regarded sources in the veterinarian field.
On Wednesday, April 22, federal agencies announced that two cats have become the first pets in the United States to test positive for coronavirus. Both animals, which are from separate areas of New York state, had minor respiratory symptoms and are expected to make a full recovery, a release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
One cat was tested after its owner had already tested positive for COVID-19. The other came from a home where no one has a confirmed case of the virus, and officials speculate the animal may have contracted the virus from a family member who didn’t realize they had the virus or through contact with an infected person outside the home.
This blog includes some information shared on the websites of some locally, nationally and internationally well-regarded sources in the veterinarian field.
“We don’t want people to panic. We don’t want people to be afraid of pets” or to rush to test them en masse, Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, a CDC official who works on human-animal health connections, told the Associated Press. “There’s no evidence that pets are playing a role in spreading this disease to people.”
“Most basic: Treat pets as you would other human family members. That means pets shouldn’t interact with people or animals outside their home, cats should remain indoors if possible, owners should avoid busy dog parks and dogs should be walked on a leash, maintaining a 6-foot distance from other people and animals.”
What do we know about COVID-19 virus and companion animals?
The current spread of COVID-19 is a result of human-to-human contact. To date, there is no evidence that companion animals play a significant a role in spreading the disease. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals, which may compromise their welfare.
“For responsible pet owners, preparing in advance is key. Make sure you have an emergency kit prepared, with at least two weeks’ worth of your pet’s food and any needed medications. Usually we think about emergency kits like this in terms of what might be needed for an evacuation, but it’s also good to have one prepared in the case of quarantine or self-isolation when you cannot leave your home.”
The AVMA maintains its current recommendations regarding SARS-CoV-2 and animals. These recommendations, which are supported by guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and (OIE), are that:
• Animal owners without symptoms of COVID-19 should continue to practice good hygiene during interactions with animals. This includes washing hands before and after such interactions and when handling animal food, waste, or supplies.
• Until more is known about the virus, those ill with COVID-19 should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just as you would restrict your contact with other people. Have another member of your household or business take care of feeding and otherwise caring for any animals, including pets. If you have a service animal or you must care for your animals, including pets, then wear a cloth face covering; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them, and wash your hands before and after any contact with them.
• Routine testing of animals for SARS-CoV-2 is NOT recommended. Veterinarians are strongly encouraged to rule out other, more common causes of illness in animals before considering testing for SARS-CoV-2.
Florida Veterinarian Medical Association
The FVMA produced a helpful brochure with information from the CDC, WHO and AVMA, which you can download using this link https://issuu.com/fvma_faep/docs/fvma_2020_coronavirus_covid-19_brochure_print_fina?fr=sN2ZmYzEwMzgwOTU
“Pets are an important part of our family, and one of the bright spots in the stay-at-home mandates is that we get to spend more time with them. The pets of the world are probably delighted with that aspect of the current crisis.”
What if my pets not feeling well or is showing signs of flu-like illness?
If your pet shows any signs of illness, such as coughing, sneezing or lethargy, call your veterinarian immediately, and keep them indoors to prevent further spread. Signs of illness in dogs and cats are usually associated with various common viral and bacterial infections (kennel cough, canine flu, etc.) that are neither coronaviruses nor transmissible to people.
Should my pet wear a mask?
No. There’s no scientific evidence that face masks protect pets from infectious diseases or air pollutants, and masks have the potential to be unnecessarily scary or uncomfortable for pets.
Is there a COVID-19 vaccine for cats and dogs?
There is no COVID-19 vaccine for pets at this time. The vaccine for canine coronavirus is not effective against the virus that causes COVID-19.
I am well, my pet is well – how can I maintain a normal routine?
While respecting social distancing as required, you can continue to walk your dog. Ensure both you and your dog remain at least 6 feet away from others. You should avoid dog parks. While you spend more time at home, try to dedicate more time to playing with your dog or cat. It’s a great time to bond, teach them new tricks or focus on behavior training.
VCA Animal Hospitals also produced some topical videos, including: “How might social distancing affect my pet?” and “Can I walk my dog during shelter in place?” Check these out at https://www.youtube.com/AskVCA?utm_source=emergency_notification&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=coronavirus&utm_content=body_questions&utm_term=wave5
Because COVID-19 is an emerging infectious disease, new information is being released constantly. To determine good sources for information, it may be wise to reach out to your trusted veterinarian for organizations they recommend you follow for ongoing information sources.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is NOT intended to serve as any form of advice for you or your pet. If you have any concerns about your pet’s health, please contact your veterinarian directly.