- Rachel Doran
Pets and the Coronavirus
Updated: Apr 4, 2020
March started like any other month but has progressed like no other. At the start of the month, most of us were simply getting excited for spring weather to return, maybe cleaning out our closets, and sweeping under the furniture. Now, at the start of April, many of us are sheltering in place, trying to remain calm, and hugging the ones we love just a little tighter each night. While the news about which of us humans are at risk is circulating on every news channel around the clock, the coverage of our pets’ risk is largely absent. Leaving many of us to wonder, can my dog get coronavirus?
Please note: We are not doctors or health professionals. This blog serves to provide information, but please keep in mind that things are changing daily. Please do your own research and stay informed!
What is Coronavirus?
Most of us are hearing about this virus for the very first time as of late. However, coronaviruses are not new to us. Coronaviruses have been around for decades and are responsible for outbreaks like SARS and MERS. It is possible that many of us have had a form of coronavirus in our lifetime and not even known it.
THIS DOES NOT MEAN COVID-19 IS NOT DANGEROUS.
COVID-19 is a novel strain of coronavirus that originated in China at the end of last year. The virus causes upper respiratory distress, fever, and in about 3% of cases, death. The biggest concern with this pathogen is that it is highly contagious, it has been spread from person to person via direct contact, and community spread is also a large contributing factor. This is why so many officials are advising self-isolation in an attempt to stop the spread.
Can my dog get coronavirus?
This question is a little more complex. The official word from the CDC reads ”CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19.”
When reading this it may seem as if this means to say that pets are safe. However, the takeaway here is that we still do not fully understand the effects of this virus. In fact, when we thought the virus mainly affected the older population and those with compromised immune systems, just recently, the first child contracted the virus in Columbus, Ohio.
The virus can lay dormant, not showing symptoms for up to 14 days! We are learning new information about this virus every single hour. In the time it takes to get this blog edited and uploaded we may have already seen our first case of COVID-19 in pets. Until we know more, the best thing we can do is to remain vigilant.
What about Cats? Can cats get Coronavirus?
To the best of our knowledge, the answer is the same as “Can my dog get Coronavirus?”. There have been no reported cases, but we need to know more before we can use a blanket statement declaring they are not at risk. For both cats and dogs, the best course of action is to err on the side of caution.
What can we do to keep our pets safe?
Isolation. If you or someone in your home is sick with COVID-19, the CDC recommends isolating the sick from your pets as a precaution. In most cases, it is probably also a good idea to practice social distancing with animals outside of your home, as well as long as social distancing is requested of us.
As a pet sitting and dog walking company, the idea of isolation and social distancing devastatingly impacts our livelihood, but the safety of everyone and their pets are our first priority. If you're interested in helping support us during this difficult time, please reach out. We would love to setup a no contact dog walk or a backyard play date.
Stock up (within reason) on pet supplies. Every day it seems like more and more cities are calling for lockdowns. In these events, residents are still permitted to go to the grocery store to buy essentials but most people are finding supplies to be limited. Be sure to have about 2 weeks worth of pet food and medications on hand. Do not overstock; that means another pet is having to go without food because you have too much sitting in your closet. But within reason, make sure you have enough. Even if you are able to get to the store, there are no guarantees your pet’s food will be in stock; so be careful not to run too low.
Designate an emergency caregiver and create a pet dossier. These recommendations come straight from the ASPCA. They suggest creating a dossier with all pet care instructions, medication, food, etc. Additionally, make plans for someone to step in and care for your pet in the event you become ill and cannot.
Wash your hands. Whether you, or your pet, are sick, washing your hands more can never hurt. Wash your hands before and after interacting with your pet. This can limit the spread of germs from your pet to you and from you to your pet.
Be less affectionate. It’s not fair, but until we know more, we should try to limit the number of kisses, snuggles, and face to face love you give. At least until we know more.
Can your dog get coronavirus? At the moment it appears as if your dogs (and/or cats) are not at risk. All preliminary studies have shown that person to person contact is how the virus spreads. To date, there have been no cases of COVID-19 in pets or of pets being carriers of the virus.
This doesn’t mean our pets are in the clear, however. We are actively learning more about the virus every day. Our understanding evolves seemingly as quickly as the virus spreads. Until we are able to say with certainty that our pets are safe, we should all do what we can to protect them as well as ourselves.
These are scary times that we find ourselves in. If you’re feeling anxious, you are not alone. Just remember to take a few deep breaths, hug the people (and animals) that you love, and stay informed. Knowledge and compassion are our greatest assets at times like these.