It's hard not to panic when we get this constant influx of news on the COVID-19 virus, especially because the stream of information is steady, relentless, and always evolving. And that's also true when it comes to information about the COVID-19 virus and pets. Once you break down the information about how this virus relates to pets, you'll realize that fear is largely unfounded. And, yes, that's true despite the news of a tiger and two cats recently being diagnosed. That's why we're taking the time to separate fact from fiction in this blog post, and the information is based largely on the latest news coming out of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
Where Are the SARS-CoV-2-Infected Cats?
The CDC and the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) announced yesterday the first confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection in pets. Both cats are located in New York state.
Can I Get This Virus From My Pets?
While we're still learning about SARS-CoV-2, there is no current evidence that suggests pets have anything to do with the spread of the virus in the United States. The AVMA's guidelines on the virus and its relation to pets was not altered based on this new information, so that is telling in and of itself.
When is Testing For COVID-19 Recommended For Pets?
You've likely seen the memes floating around about who the infamous tiger from the Bronx Zoo knows to get tested before most humans. The truth is, routine testing of animals isn't recommended but it can be justified for some pets that meet certain criteria. The decision on whether to move forward on testing an animal should be a joint decision between the public health department (local, state, and federal) and the veterinarian.
The AVMA offers up the latest guidelines on COVID-19-related testing for pets if you want to know more. If you are a veterinarian, you'll also want to know that the AVMA came up with a list of screening questions to determine which cases are the most urgent when it comes to testing.
What Should I Worry About With COVID-19 And My Pets?
Not a lot, really. As we've noted, there is no indication that the virus can be spread from animals to humans. Of course, if you've been diagnosed with COVID-19, you should try your very best to avoid your pets. If you have the means to ask someone to dog or cat-sit for you, that would be ideal. In fact, if you are a pet owner, you should get this plan in place ASAP, as veterinarians have noted that this lack of planning has been the worst effect of COVID-19 they've seen when it comes to pet owners.
If you don't have any other option but to keep your pet with you and you have COVID-19, follow these CDC guidelines:
- Wear a mask or other face covering
- Wash your hands each time you interact with them, their food, supplies, or waste
- Avoid contact with them as much as possible, including snuggling, petting, their bedding, and being kissed or licked (we know, sorry!)
- If your pet becomes ill, do not go to the veterinarian and risk their exposure - some practices will offer telemedicine appointments
Also, make sure you're getting alerts or frequenting the CDC and AVMA websites often in case of new guidelines being created.
How Can I Keep My Pet Safe From SARS-CoV-2?
Although there is no evidence to suggest that pets can give us this virus, there do seem to be some situations in which pets can get it from us.
Therefore, you should take the following CDC-recommended precautions to keep your pet from getting COVID-19:
- Avoid having pets interact with other pets or people outside your family
- Walk dogs on a leash but be cognizant to maintain at least six feet between you and other walkers
- Stay away from dog parks or other common areas
- Keep cats indoors
- Wash your dog's feet after walks and before coming inside
Also, bear in mind that children under five years of age and those over the age of 65 as well as people with weakened immune systems are more likely to get sick from germs that come from animals.
We know this is a disconcerting time, but the overall consensus shows there is no reason to panic and think your pet will get you sick. However, if you have any questions regarding COVID-19 and your pet, please do not hesitate to give us a call.