The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is changing our lives and a lot of people have questions about how the virus might affect pets. It can be challenging to discern and digest all the information shared on social media, so we gathered up credible source material to keep you as informed as possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the intergovernmental World Organisation for Animal Health, American Kennel Club and the World Health Organization have some reassuring information about life with your pets in this age of novel coronavirus.
Can pets give you the coronavirus?
There is no reason to think that pets in the U.S. might be a source of infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals showing symptoms of COVID-19. It’s always a good idea, however, to wash your hands after being around animals. According to the World Health Organization, “there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly.” American Kennel Club Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Jerry Klein says “the CDC has not reported any cases of pets or other animals becoming infected with COVID-19 in the United States or anywhere else in the world, including hotbeds like Italy.”
Should you avoid your pets if you have symptoms?
If you think you might have contracted the virus, the CDC recommends restricting contact with pets and other animals (and humans, of course!). While there have been no reports of pets or other animals showing symptoms of novel coronavirus, people with symptoms should limit contact with animals until more is known about the virus, WOAH says on its website. When possible, have another member of your household care for pets while you are sick. If you have no other care options, wash your hands before and after contact with pets and wear a facemask if available. Novel coronavirus patients should avoid petting, snuggling, and sharing kisses and food (we know, it would be hard for us too), according to WOAH. The AKC further suggests that you avoid petting animals if you are sick because the virus could be transmitted via fur.
Can I take my dog on hikes or walks?
The CDC recommends “social distancing” to prevent spreading the virus. Please follow the recommendations of your local government and health departments and use your best judgement about going outdoors with your pets. If you are planning to go outside with your pet, please practice proper trail and walking etiquette.
What is proper trail/walking etiquette?
We recommend that you always keep your dog in a harness, leashed, and at your side to give you more control over her movements outdoors. This will also prevent her from contacting any other dogs or trail hikers. It is important to keep a safe distance of at least 6 feet between any other hikers or dogs that you might encounter on the trail. We also recommend avoiding “off-leash” areas, as the fur from other dogs could potentially transfer infected droplets onto you or your dog. Although your dog might want to greet every new person she meets on the trail, it is important to respect others’ need to socially distance themselves in order to keep everyone safe.
If you are at home and not showing any symptoms, enjoy the extra time with your pets!