In this time of concern about our health and the well being of all our animals, pet owners in particular are asking us many questions about Covid-19. our members have been asking how it might affect their pets. Pet owners please read this article which will offer some guidance base on veterinary best practice and current knowledge about the virus.
What Should Pet Owners Know About Covid-19?
We are currently living in uncertain times. With the Covid-19 pandemic hitting cities and entire countries hard right now, there are a lot of questions from pet owners all around the world.
For example, New York City is currently under a shelter-in-place order. But can you still walk your dog or visit a dog park during this time?
The following are some of the things you need to know if you have pets during the time of Covid-19.
Can You Infect Your Pet and Vice Versa?
Some people have been worried about the transmission of Covid-19 from pets to humans or humans to pets. There were two dogs in Hong Kong and one cat in Belgium that may have been rumoured to have been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, infectious disease professionals say there’s no real evidence to suggest this is the case. Vets are reassuring us right now that pets will not spread Covid-10 to other animals or humans.
Pet owners ask if pet can transmit the virus
The potential risk for transmission involving pets would be if a person directly coughed directly onto an animal, such as on their fur, and then someone without the virus touched the fur after. This is technically a possible form of transmission but easily avoided.
The primary form of transmission of the virus is when there’s contact with the secretions of an infected person, such as through the droplets in a cough or sneeze. Transmission can occur if you were to touch an infected surface and then touched your nose, mouth, or eyes, although it’s not as likely.
The best precautions are…
Wash your hands – If you aren’t sick, you can still interact with your pet as you would normally. Just make sure you’re washing your hands and doing all the things you should doing be anyway.
If your are sick practice self – isolation – Experts suggest caution that if you are sick or believe you have symptoms of Covid-19. You must limit your contact with your pets until more is known just as you would practise social distancing with other people. The recommendation is that if you are infected, you have someone else take care of your pet while you’re sick.
If you are on your own and sick as a pet owner – If you don’t have someone who can do that for you, wear a mask when you interact with your pet. Always wash your hands before and after petting your animals. Stay in isolation for 14 days from first detecting your symptoms.
The reason many people have had questions about their pets during this pandemic is that corona viruses can originate in animals and then pass to humans. For example, severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS was caused by a coronavirus originating in animals that then spread to humans.
However, this is a new virus Covid-19 which stands apart. Research, as it stands right now, indicates the Covid-19 virus perhaps originated from a horseshoe bat.
Along with CDC guidance, the World Health Organization (WHO) currently doesn’t believe there’s evidence that dogs play a role in the spread of the virus.
If an animal were to contract the virus, it’s not likely they would become ill from it.
What If You’re Taking Care of a Sick Pet owner’s Animal?
If you know someone who becomes ill from the Covid-19 virus, and they are a pet owner they will need someone to help. A neighbour may need you to care for their pet while they are sick or hospitalized. What should you do?
First, you shouldn’t go into the location where the person has been living or was staying, without talking to your local public health authority first.
You should only enter if you’re wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). You may need someone to help you retrieve the pet because of this situation.
As a side note, your pet should not wear a face mask in public. It can cause breathing problems for your pet. The face mask is for you to wear.
Pets and Quarantine or the Shelter in Place Order
Some densely populated cities, including London, Madrid, New York City and Paris, have a ‘quarantine’ in place right now. This is also called a shelter in place order In smaller cities that are less dense and suburban and rural areas, there may be less concern about how you’ll take care of your pet. You may have a garden or yard, or you may have a park near your home to walk.
In bigger cities, this is a growing concern for pet owners.
Pet owners walking their dogs
If you’re under a ‘quarantine’ or ‘shelter in place’, while it’s not a legal term, these restrictions could mean limitations on walking your dog.
However, that doesn’t have to be the case. It doesn’t mean you strictly have to stay home. Some essential workers are still going to their place of work, and essential businesses like pharmacies and grocery stores are still open. You can also still walk your dog. However, there may be limits to how often you can walk your dog.
In fact, in places with much stricter lockdowns like France, Italy and Spain, you are permitted to walk your dog once or twice a day.
When you are walking your dog, there are things you need to consider though. You should follow social distancing guidelines. Stay 2 metres apart from other people, even if you are in a dog park. However, in New York, Governor Cuomo is now restricting access to parks and similar facilities. So check if your local dog park is still an option in your area before leaving home.
What If Your Pet Seems Sick?
People are very worried and nervous right now, and that fear may extend to their pets, perhaps justifiably but maybe not. If your pet is experiencing any symptoms, don’t just bring them straight to the veterinarian. Call your vet first. They may offer a drive by service rather than in their surgery.
If you have symptoms
- If you are sick, please don’t take your pet anywhere. Stay in quarantine for the full 14 days. The very best things you can do for your pet, again, are the same things you can do for yourself and others.
- Practice social distancing – make sure you stock up on necessary food and supplies for your pet as well as yourself.
- Plan ahead to ensure you have the necessary prescription medications.
- Wash your hands before you interact with your pets. And then wash them after for at least 20 seconds with soap and ensure you wash your thumbs and wrists.
- Keep your pet well-groomed. Give him or her weekly baths, and regularly clean items like water bowls, food bowls, toys, and bedding.
- Don’t share anything like dishes or towels with your pet, particularly if you are sick. This is normal best practice, especially important now with Covid-19
Enjoy your pet
While you may be worried about your pet during this difficult tiume, try to enjoy your time with them. Spending time with your pet can be relaxing. It can help your mental health if you’re struggling with what’s currently happening in the world. Pets can be great company.
Take walks when possible and try to soothe yourself, as challenging as this time can be.
We wish you all the very best of health.