The arrival of the coronavirus in the USA has radically changed the lives of nearly every American. We’re practicing “social distancing”, buying lots of non-perishable groceries, and working from home.
I like to imagine that all our pets are delighted that their parents, inexplicably, are spending all their time at home. But our cats and dogs may be the only ones who are thrilled- the rest of us are concerned, as this is uncharted territory.
We know that coronavirus is extremely contagious for human beings and can be spread very quickly, and, as a vet, the question I’m being asked most is “can the coronavirus affect my pet?”
The good news is that at this time there is no evidence to support that animals can become infected with the human coronavirus. Of course, it’s important to keep abreast of the current information via reputable sources (things are changing so quickly). These sources include the CDC, World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA).
One thing to keep in mind is that while animals are not infected with the virus, it’s theoretically possible that the virus can live on their fur. So, if an infected person pets our dog while on a walk, we could unwittingly bring the virus into our homes.
There are a few things you can do to reduce this risk: don’t let people you don’t know pet your dog or cat, bathe your pet more frequently than usual, and discourage your pet from licking you.
And don’t forget to stock up on any food or medications your pet may need! Online ordering is the safest way to go, and it’s best to have a months’ worth of food or medication on hand at all times (this is good practice even when we aren’t in the middle of a health crisis).
It’s also a good idea to touch base with your veterinarian. Many vet clinics are implementing special procedures to avoid too much social interaction, such as having their patients wait in the car to avoid a crowded waiting room. And, of course, if you feel sick, call your vet in advance to let them know so they can take proper precautions.