COVID-19 & Your Pets

4/23/20

The doctors and staff at Family Pet Animal Hospital want you to be informed about the developing information regarding SARS-CoV-2, the Coronavirus responsible for COVID-19, and companion animals.  We are aware that there is misinformation circulating on social media and want to guide you to reliable resources to answer your questions and concerns on this topic. 

Reliable Sources of Information

The following sites are reliable, factual, and have been continuously updated as new developments arise:

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC):

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): 

World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE):

Summary of Key Points

  • The current worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 is a result of person-to-person transmission. 
  • The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, World Health Organization, and the World Organisation for Animal Health agree that there is no current evidence that companion animals have played a role in the spread of the virus.  Therefore, there is no justification in removing pets from your home or taking any measures against companion animals that would endanger their well-being.
  • Worldwide, only four companion animals have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus after exposure from owners that had COVID-19 – two dogs in Hong Kong and two cats in New York.  The pets were either asymptomatic or had mild respiratory illnesses. (Information regarding the cat in Belgium that had been in the news is less clear – more info the AVMA website listed above.)

Current Recommendations for Companion Animals

Because much is still unknown about the virus, in an abundance of caution, our recommendations are as follows:

  • Treat your pets as you would other members of your household – do not let your pets interact with people or pets from other households, keep cats indoors, maintain at least six feet of distance between your pets and other people/pets when out for a walk or in public, and avoid areas where lots of people and pets congregate.
  • Those ill with COVID-19 should limit contact with their pets, just as they would with other human members of their household.  Whenever possible, have another member of the household care for the pet while you are sick.
  • As always, careful handwashing before and after interacting with your pets and regularly cleaning your pet’s food and water bowls/bedding material/toys  can greatly reduce the chances of spreading any disease.

From the AVMA site:  “While we are recommending these as good practices, it is important to remember that there is currently no reason at this time to think that domestic animals, including pets, in the United States might be a source of infection with SARS-CoV-2. Accordingly, there is no reason to remove pets from homes where COVID-19 has been identified in members of the household, unless there is risk that the pet itself is not able to be cared for appropriately. In this emergency, pets and people each need the support of the other and veterinarians are there to support the good health of both. “

Given that this is a novel virus, the veterinary community is closely monitoring the situation.  Continue to check the AVMA, CDC, and OIE sites listed above, as they are updated as new information becomes available.