COVID-19 and your pets – Fact vs. Fiction
(UPDATED APRIL 13, 2020)
As the COVID-19 crisis continues, so do the myths circulating online. People are left wondering what to believe and what the pandemic means for their pets.
At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals can transmit the virus to humans. As a general precaution, the World Organization of Animal Health recommends regular hand washing with soap and potable water before and after touching animals, their food, or their supplies.
There is absolutely no need to surrender or abandon your pets for fear of viral transmission.
To keep you informed, we’ve compiled a list of some of the inaccuracies we’ve been hearing, and the factual information you need to know to stay safe.
MYTH: A dog tested positive for COVID-19, so that means my pets can make me sick
There is currently no evidence that domestic animals can transmit the virus that causes COVID-19. The COVID-19 infection is primarily transmitted from person to person. Animal testing is not advised at this time.
TRUTH: COVID-19 originated from an animal source.
While it is true that COVID-19 emerged from an animal source and is now being transmitted between people, there is currently no evidence to show that animals can make humans sick with COVID-19. While is it true that the virus mutated to be able to affect humans, at this time COVID-19 is considered a primarily a human illness.
MYTH: I don’t have to worry about isolating my pet if I am under self-quarantine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), contact with pets should be restricted while you are sick with COVID-19, until more is known about the virus. If possible, have another member of your household care for your pet while you are sick. If this is not an option and you must care for your pet while sick, please do not engage in close contact (cuddling, snuggling, being kissed or licked by your pet, or sharing food). Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before and after contact and wear a facemask.
TRUTH: You can still do a lot to interact with your dog.
If you have not been exposed or you are not sick with COVID 19, you can consider walking your dog. But here’s what you need to know. Owners should wash their hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds before and after each walk. Practice social distancing measures by walking your dog in uncrowded areas when possible. If you live in a big city, make efforts to take your dog down less-heavily-trafficked blocks, or try adjusting walks to less busy times of day and night. If this is not possible, consider more indoor enrichment activities such as scent games, playing with a stuffed frozen chew toy (e.g.- Kong®) or teaching new interactions. We’ve got some great ideas on our Shelterhealthpro.com website.
While more information is needed about COVID-19 and its effect on domestic animals, currently there are no animals considered at risk. However, we all need to continue to practice proper hygiene around our pets to ensure that we are keeping them, and ourselves safe. Make sure you have the contact information for your local public health unit and veterinary clinic should you need to seek medical advice for yourself or your pet.
Stay safe and healthy! Please share this information with others in your community who have furry family members.
Wish to thank everyone involved
I wish to thank everyone involved in the care and rescue of animals, especially volunteers.