pets and the novel coronavirus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are aware that a small number of pets are reported to have been infected with COVID-19 – mostly after close contact with people who have the novel coronavirus.  According to the CDC, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. However, based on the information available today, the CDC says it may spread from people to animals in some situations.

If you have a dog or a cat, you may have questions about the safety and well-being of your pets, particularly if your pet is sneezing, coughing, has vomiting/diarrhea or appears lethargic.

Canine coronavirus disease, known as CCoV, is an intestinal infection in dogs; puppies are especially vulnerable. This virus is usually short-lived, but may cause considerable abdominal discomfort for a few days in infected dogs.

Dr. Julie LaRue, a veterinarian at Meadowview Veterinary Hospital in White Plains, says it’s important to know that the virus can be carried on your pets fur so they should be distanced from other pets as well as people, even though transmission is very rare.

While there’s limited evidence that pets can become infected with COVID-19, you would do well to treat them as you would a human family member. The CDC provides detailed recommendations on how to do so:

  • If you think your pet is sick, or may have come into contact with someone with COVID-19, do not take your pet to a veterinary clinic yourself, even if you think you’re healthy. Call your vet first for guidance. He/she may provide a telehealth visit or pick up your pet for an evaluation.
  • Even when pets aren’t infected, they may carry the virus on their skin and fur. If you must care for your pet, do so while wearing a mask. Avoid sharing your bed and couch, and do not snuggle, kiss or hug your pet. Wash your hands frequently after petting them, or handling their food, bedding, waste and supplies. If you are unwell, consider having a friend or a family member care for your pet, but ensure that they consistently follow the same healthy practices.
  • Restrict your pet’s interactions with other people, especially the vulnerable populations (older adults, people with pre-existing conditions, pregnant women and children younger than age 5).
  • Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining that 6-foot social distancing recommendation.
  • Avoid dog parks or other areas where a large number of people and dogs gather.

If you have cats, keep them indoors, and consider creating a catio (cat patio). Maximize the use of your outdoor spaces, such as a patio or a back yard.

Do not hesitate to call or email your vet to have your questions answered. You may also check out this helpful resource from the CDC called Healthy Pets, Healthy People for additional information.


Latest posts by Anastasia Slesareva (see all)