The COVID-19 pandemic is still going strong, and we have more challenging months ahead. During the pandemic, you’ve likely had many questions about if, and how, COVID-19 can affect your pet. Our Groves Veterinary Clinic team answers our most frequent questions about COVID-19 and pets.
Can animals contract coronaviruses?
Many coronavirus strains cause a variety of illnesses in people and animals, including cats, dogs, birds, horses, and pigs. Most coronavirus infections are species-specific, although a few can be transmitted between species, such as humans and animals. The coronaviruses that most commonly infect dogs and cats cause mild gastrointestinal illness, although a mutated strain can cause feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), which is a progressive, deadly infection in cats.
Can my pet get COVID-19?
During the pandemic, there have been several reports of pet dogs and cats contracting COVID-19 from their owners. Most of these pets displayed mild respiratory illness, and all recovered quickly, with no obvious long-term effects. Fortunately, COVID-19 appears to cause only mild disease in pets who contract the virus, and no pets are known to have developed severe symptoms or died. The infection risk to pets also appears to be low, as few cases have been reported, despite more than 15 million human U.S. cases to date.
Can I get COVID-19 from my pet?
Although pets can contract COVID-19 from their owners, the reverse does not seem to hold true. Thankfully, there are no known reports of a pet spreading the virus to a human. While the pandemic is believed to have started when a bat transmitted the coronavirus to a human, dogs, cats, and other pet animals do not seem to play a role in spreading the disease.
How can I keep my pet safe if I have COVID-19?
COVID-19 does not seem to be a significant threat to pets, but you should still protect your pet from infection, out of an abundance of caution. Take precautions with your furry friend similar to those protecting other family members, such as:
- Avoiding contact — If you are sick, avoid petting, snuggling with, or sleeping with your pet.
- Washing your hands — If you are your pet’s only caregiver, and you must have contact with them, wash your hands before and after handling or feeding them.
- Staying in a separate area — If possible, stay in a separate bedroom, with a closed door, to prevent spreading the virus throughout your home.
- Following quarantine guidelines — If you have been exposed to COVID-19, minimize contact with your pet during the quarantine period, if possible. Although you may not become sick, you can still develop a subclinical infection and spread the virus to others, including your pet.
What should I do if my pet has COVID-19 symptoms?
If your pet develops any respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing, or nasal discharge, contact our Groves Veterinary Clinic team right away. Like people, pets can develop a variety of respiratory infections and illnesses, and we will thoroughly evaluate your pet. Most mild respiratory infections can be treated at home, and resolve without complications; however, pets occasionally develop pneumonia, and require hospitalization. If your pet develops respiratory signs after COVID-19 exposure, we will determine whether viral testing is appropriate.
If your pet ever has trouble breathing, or develops blue-tinged oral membranes, they require immediate veterinary medical care. Although COVID-19 is unlikely to be causing their breathing problems, many serious health conditions, such as heart disease and asthma, may be the cause, and can quickly become life-threatening.
How should I prepare my pet for quarantine?
With cases on the rise, your exposure risk increases daily. If contact tracing reveals that you have been directly exposed to the virus, you may need to quarantine for 14 days, or longer. To ensure you are prepared for a two-week period when you cannot leave your home, stock up on supplies for you and your pet. Keep in mind that some websites may experience shortages and longer-than-normal shipping times, so plan ahead, and order supplies well before you run out. Don’t forget to include your pet’s prescription food, medications, and parasite preventives, although you can always use our online pharmacy to ship these supplies directly to your door.
Can I bring my pet to your clinic for routine health care?
As an essential service, we have remained open throughout the pandemic, although our operations look a little different. To preserve the health of our clients, patients, and team members, we have shifted to curbside appointments. When you arrive with your pet, you will call us from the parking lot to let us know you have arrived. A team member will come and get your pet and gather important information. While your pet is with us, we will maintain communication to discuss their health, and any necessary tests or medical care.
Rest assured that we are taking every precaution to prevent COVID-19 transmission, including:
- Requiring all team members to wear masks inside and outside the building
- Accepting and opening all deliveries outside the building
- Sanitizing pens, clipboards, and leashes after each use
- Cleaning each day during lunchtime
- Cleaning and sanitizing the clinic after-hours every day
We will get through the final months of the pandemic together. The Groves Veterinary Clinic team is here for you and your pet, so contact us if you have any more questions about COVID-19 and your pet.