As more parts of the country institute stay-at-home measures to keep people safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, you are likely wondering how to also ensure your pet’s health and safety. For a happy, healthy pet during this coronavirus outbreak, the following seven steps are key.
#1: Stay informed with the most current, accurate COVID-19 information
If you’re working remotely, or practicing social distancing by staying home, you’re likely spending more time scrolling through Facebook. While social media is excellent for staying connected with family and friends, it’s not the best source of accurate information for anything other than how well your local grocery store is stocked. For data-driven, scientific facts about COVID-19, and prompt updates, rely instead on major human and animal health organizations. A few of the top health agencies include:
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
- World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)
As always, you can also contact us for any questions about your pet’s health, or COVID-19.
#2: Understand the differences in coronavirus strains
You may have heard that dogs can get coronavirus, with its own vaccine, but canine coronavirus is not the same as COVID-19. Coronaviruses comprise a large family of viruses known to cause illness in a variety of species, including dogs, cats, horses, pigs, birds, and people. Most coronavirus strains are species-specific, but a few are zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted between people and animals. COVID-19 is thought to have originated in bats, but then made the leap to people to become a human coronavirus strain, and is now spread solely among people.
Canine and feline coronaviruses are species-specific, so you do not need to worry that you will get your pet’s illness. Cats and dogs can be infected by an enteric coronavirus that affects the intestinal tract, causing mild, self-limiting diarrhea, while dogs can also develop a respiratory form that has been linked to some kennel cough cases. Be aware that the canine coronavirus vaccine will not protect your dog against COVID-19, but only the enteric form of canine coronavirus.
#3: Rest easy knowing pets have not displayed COVID-19 signs
Despite two dogs in China testing positive for COVID-19, zero pets have shown any respiratory illness signs associated with the disease. With the hundreds of thousands of confirmed human cases, it stands to reason that a few pets living in close quarters with their families would be transiently infected with the virus. The two dogs, who eventually tested negative for COVID-19, were living with infected owners, but developed no clinical signs during their quarantine period, which suggests that the virus may be able to infect pets, but not necessarily cause disease.
#4: Learn how COVID-19 is transmitted
As a human coronavirus, COVID-19 is spread by person-to-person contact through inhalation of infective respiratory droplets emitted when someone coughs. Indirect transmission can also occur if you come in contact with a contaminated surface that has been coughed on, such as tabletops, door knobs, light switches, or pet fur. Since COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus, more information is needed to fully understand all possible transmission methods. Currently, the thought is that virus particles can exist for several hours on porous materials, and longer on smooth surfaces, but more research is needed.
#5: Prepare your pet for quarantine
While stocking up on supplies for your family, don’t forget your four-legged family member. Your pet will also need a two- to four-week supply of basic necessities, such as food, treats, litter, waste bags, and medications. If your pet is on a daily medication for a chronic condition, or needs more heartworm, flea, and tick prevention, contact us for refills. We will fill your pet’s prescriptions to ensure you have enough to last through this crisis.
#6: Protect your pet and family with proper hygiene
Based on the lack of evidence showing pets can become ill with COVID-19, and the thousands of pets who tested negative for the disease, your pet is highly unlikely to develop respiratory illness. But, she may still infect other people by carrying pathogens on her fur, collar, or leash, so ensure you follow proper hygiene protocols if you are ill. Regardless of your health status, always wash your hands before and after handling your pet, and avoid kissing, hugging, snuggling, and sharing food, as hygiene is critical for minimizing transmission risk.
#7: Stay in contact with Airway Animal Clinic for your pet’s health care
If you are ill, and your pet develops respiratory issues, contact us immediately. While your coughing dog is unlikely to have contracted COVID-19, the situation is still evolving, and the virus may mutate to infect animals. During your pet’s appointment, we will rule out other, more common, causes of respiratory illness, such as kennel cough, upper respiratory infection, heart disease, laryngeal paralysis, or a collapsing trachea.
As the COVID-19 situation changes rapidly, we may also change our policies to better protect our team, patients, and clients from potential disease transmission. At Airway Animal Clinic, public health is our top priority, and we will enforce appropriate precautions to keep pets and their owners safe. For any questions concerning your pet’s health, recent COVID-19 updates, or our current operating policies, contact us.