COVID-19 and Your Pet
More information on the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus is becoming available quickly. That said, it is still a very new virus and we must be careful when interpreting information provided to us. Of course, it never hurts to error on the side of caution, but we also don't want to make hasty decisions based on unocorroborated information. In reviewing the literature (much of it anyway as everyone seemingly has their own "resource") and after attending several industry teleconferences, the following information might be useful. (Some of it is similar to information previously posted.) Please note that "coronavirus" in this post refers to the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19.
Can I get coronavirus from my pet?
Most likely, no. So far there have not been any known instances of pets passing the virus to people, either directly (by sneezing, coughing, etc.) or indirectly (being carried on its fur, paws, etc). Hair is extremely porous and the virus has been found to survive best on hard, non-porous surfaces like plastic and stainless steel. That said, if an animal has been around someone who did test positive for the disease, being cautious is advised especially if the pet was recently with the infected person. Steps like wearing a mask while around the pet, wiping the pet's fur down with a wet wipe (or perhaps bathing the pet), not touching your face, not letting the pet lick you or be close to your face, & washing your hands for 20 seconds immediately after coming in contact with the pet are good practices to observe.
Can my pet get coronavirus from me?
Since our last post, a couple of domestic cats have become infected with the coronavirus as have several tigers after close contact with a person who had the virus. These instances, however, are few & far between. Generally speaking, it is believed that cats & ferrets are more susceptible to becoming infected than are other pets such as dogs. If you become infected with the coronavirus, if possible, have someone else take care of your pet until you are no longer sick. If this isn't an option, minimize your interaction with the pet and wear a face mask when you do need to interact.
How do I prepare in the event that I do get sick with the coronavirus?
Prior to becoming infected if possible, ensure that you have at least a few week's worth of food and any medication your pet is taking. This would include routine heartworm prevention & flea/tick products (it's getting warmer outside & we're seeing more & more insects). See if anyone outside of your household could take care of your pet if needed, or minimally, determine how you could care for your pet while interacting minimally with him/her. (Remember as hard as this is, it is temporary!) Ensure you have access to your pet's health records, veterinary information, etc. If you need to get your pet's medication, see if someone else can pick it up for you, or even utilize an online store option.
I think my pet has coronavirus. What should I do?
Call your pet's veterinarian & speak to someone there. Although a test has recently become available thru a large commercial lab, generally speaking, testing your pet is not recommended. The exception to this might be if you are infected, your pet is showing the appropriate signs, and the result might steer treatment recommendations.
I'm worried about my cat - should I get rid of him/her?
No! Again, cats are not the primary victim of this illness, nor is there any evidence that they can transmit the disease.
What resources do you recommend to learn more about the disease, especially regarding my pet?
There are several resources out there including the CDC, AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), and the FDA.