Your pets and COVID-19 |

Your pets and COVID-19

Submitted by Kimberly Parker, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation

We are all working hard to keep ourselves and our families healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, but what about our furry friends? Worldwide, a small number of cats and dogs have been reported to have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people that were sick.

Based upon limited information, it appears that the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is low. It also appears there is a low risk of people spreading COVID-19 to their pets. Of the pets that have been reported with the infection, most only had mild symptoms and fully recovered.

So what do you do? First, treat your pets as you would other family members. Do not let your pet interact with individuals outside the household. This isn’t the time for you to allow strangers to pet your dog or pick up your cat.

While it might cheer up your sick family member to hold the cat, it is best to isolate your pet as much as possible from anyone that may be compromised. Avoid snuggling, kissing, or allowing your pet to sleep with you. If someone within the house is symptomatic and you have an outdoor space or can create distancing within the house, it is best to separate your furry friend until everyone has recovered.

The same rules apply for outdoor activities with your pet that apply to people. If you are going out with your dog, walk on a leash at least six feet from others. Avoid places where a large number of people may gather. This isn’t the best time to go to a dog park.

One thing you should never do is put a face covering on any animal. Covering your pet’s face may be harmful. There is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread to people from the hair or fur so do not bathe or wipe off your pet with alcohol, hydrogen peroxide and any product not approved for animal use.

For those that have a service animal that may need to be around others, it is important that the handler take extra precautions. Before and after every contact, wash your hands. Disinfect collars, harnesses, therapy vests, leashes and food and water bowls.

While routine testing of COVID-19 for pets is possible, it is not recommended at this time. As with people, there is no vaccine for COVID-19 for pets. If your furry friend is ill, it’s best to talk to your veterinarian.

With family members at home during the day, your pet’s routine may have been disrupted which may cause them to become stressed. Keeping them on a routine diet, making sure you have a good supplies of medication, creating indoor games for exercise, and making sure you have a back-up plan for their care if needed will ease your mind and provide structure to caring for your pet during these difficult times.

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