It seems like every day health experts issue another safety recommendation to help us prepare and deal with the coronavirus.
As we continue to plan for the uncertainties of COVID-19, here are some tips for making our pets part of our preparedness plan, too.
Thankfully, amid all the worrisome news there’s a glimmer of good tidings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that companion animals in the United States, including dogs and other pets, cannot contract or spread COVID-19. Also, the World Health Organization (WHO) says there’s no evidence the virus has infected any dogs or cats.
However, because animals and people can sometimes share diseases (called zoonotic diseases), the CDC recommends people who are sick or under medical attention for COVID-19 to limit contact with companion and other animals until more is known about the virus.
Petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked and sharing food is not recommended.
Instead, have a friend or family member take care of your pet until your health provider says you have cleared the virus. If you are ill with COVID-19 and must take care of your own pet, practice good hygiene and wear a face mask, if possible.
Again, there’s no evidence that your pet can spread COVID-19, but to make sure, you want to err abundantly on the side of caution.
I’m healthy and need to bring my pet or service animal to the vet. What should I do?
- If you are healthy, call your vet to make an appointment for your pet or service animal as you usually would.
I have COVID-19 but still need to bring my animal to the vet. What should I do?
- If your need to see your vet is an elective and a non-urgent one, you should wait until both your health care provider and public health officials say it’s okay to interact with other people.
- If you believe your pet or service animal is ill, seek help from your vet and public health official to determine how to best ensure your pet or service animal can be appropriately cared for while minimizing risks of transmitting COVID-19 to other people.
What else should I do to help my pet?
- Stock up on pet supplies. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recommends preparing an emergency kit with at least a 30-day supply of medication and two weeks’ worth of food for your pet.
- Designate an emergency caregiver. Identify someone who can take care of your pet in case you can’t. Share with them your pet’s health issues, if any, and provide contact information for your veterinarian. Also, let them know other things about your pet, such as their habits, quirks, favorite foods, food preferences, and so on.
- Have a crate ready. If your pet needs to be relocated or transported, a crate can help protect your pet’s safety.
- Identification. Your pet should have proper identification, such as a collar with ID tag and a microchip with current contact information.
Continue to protect yourself!
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds!
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Stay home when you are sick.