Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people while others can cause illness in animals. Some coronaviruses that infect animals can sometimes spread to people, but this is extremely rare, and while the outbreak of COVID-19 has been thought to have been linked to a live animal market, the virus is now spreading from person to person. At this time there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus.
However, we are learning that in some situations the virus can spread from people to animals, although this too is rare. The CDC is aware of a small number of pets, including cats and dogs, reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 after close contact with a person infected with the virus. Only a few of the animals reported to be positive showed signs of illness.
What To Do If You Own Pets
Until we learn more about the virus, it’s important to treat pets as you would any other human family member to protect them for possible infection. Just like you are social distancing, make sure that your pet is too. Do not let pets interact with other people or animals outside of the household. Coronavirus spreads even when a person is asymptomatic, so it’s important to make sure your animal isn’t visiting with others.
Keep your pets indoors, especially outside cats. This will keep them from interacting with other people and animals, and while there is currently no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 is present in any free-living wildlife in the United States, it’s important to keep your pets away. Wildlife can carry other serious diseases, and other people may have the virus and not know it inadvertently giving it to your pet.
This does not mean that you and your pet cannot go outside. In fact, walking your dog and playing with your pets is important in maintaining their overall health. Walk dogs on a leash and maintain at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people and animals. Do not gather in groups and stay away from crowded places and mass gatherings. Do not go to a dog park or other public places where there are many people and other dogs. The greater the number, the higher the risk of spreading the virus. To help maintain social distancing, do not let other people pet your dog when you are out for a walk.
As always, if your pet gets sick or you have any concerns about your pet’s health, contact your veterinarian.
Protect Pets If You Are Sick
If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed), limit your contact with pets and other animals, just like you would with humans. Until more is known about the virus, it’s important to stay away if you’re sick. This can help ensure that both you and your animals stay healthy.
When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick. If you must care for your pet or be around animals when you are sick, wear a face mask or cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after interacting with them. Avoid any unnecessary contact with your pet if you are sick including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding.
If you are sick with COVID-19 and your pet becomes sick, do not take your pet to the veterinary clinic. Call your veterinarian and let them know you have been sick with COVID-19. Your veterinarian can determine the next steps for your pet’s treatment and care. It’s imperative that if you have COVID-19 you remain away from others to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
For more information from the CDC visit: What to Do if You are Sick.
Stay Healthy Around Animals
In the United States, there is no evidence that supports that animals, including pets, livestock, or wildlife, are playing a significant role in the spread of COVID-19. However, because all animals can carry germs that make people sick, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals.
One of the biggest things you can do in the prevention of all germs is to wash your hands. Wash your hands after handling animals (including petting and cuddling), their food, waste, or supplies. Practice good pet hygiene and clean up after pets properly. Know that children 5 years of age and younger, people with weakened immune systems, and people 65 years of age and older are more likely to get sick from germs some animals can carry. Talk to your veterinarian if you have questions about your pet’s health.
You and your pet’s health are of the utmost importance. If you have any concerns about your pet’s health, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.
For more information about healthy pets, visit the CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website.
For more information about pets regarding COVID-19, visit the CDC’s If You Have Animals section of their website.
*Recommended by the CDC as of 4/21/20