Another question we never imagined before!
Many of us adore our pets. They give us tail-wagging, purring, squawking doses of pure love, whether we’ve earned such huge affection or not! This is good medicine, especially as our lives have narrowed. Plus, we get to hang out with someone who is not going to say one thing about COVID-19. What a relief! It seems like we tend to worry about even good things these days. A lot of that worry keeps us safe when we practice physical distancing and a little obsessive hand washing. But it also brings up new and strange ideas like, “Can I catch COVID-19 from my pet?”
Who’s at risk: us or our pets?
There is limited evidence on the subject, but the evidence we have suggests animals can become sick with COVID-19 from us! Several dogs have tested positive for coronavirus after contact with infected humans. Ferrets seem to be susceptible. I didn’t see that one coming! Cats also. As you may have heard, this includes not only house cats but also the four tigers and three lions that tested positive for COVID-19 at the Bronx Zoo. So, remember, if you are within six feet of a tiger or lion, wear a face mask!
On the other hand, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.” The risk from animals, including your pet, is low. All the same, the CDC upgraded its guidance telling us to be a bit more cautious about our pets. Here’s what we should do:
Physical distancing and your pet
- Think of your pet like any other member of your family; we should make sure they stay at least six feet away from non-household members, both humans and animals. No puppy tussling, no snuggles from the neighbors!
- Keep dogs on a leash to maintain distance.
- Keep cats indoors when possible so they don’t have contact with other people or pets.
- Dog parks or crowded public spaces are a no go.
If you are sick, protect your pets!
The CDC has added chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell to its list of COVID-19 symptoms, expanding on the long-known symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. You can learn more about these symptoms by clicking here. If you have any of these symptoms, keep your distance and do not have contact with your pets. That involves:
- When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick.
- Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or your bed.
- If you have to care for your pet while you’re sick, wear a face mask or covering and wash your hands before and after contact with them.
- If your pet becomes sick while you are ill, don’t take your pet to the veterinary clinic yourself. Call your vet and let them know you have been sick, possibly with COVID-19 or a confirmed diagnosis. Some vets offer telemedicine consultations or have other plans for seeing sick pets. Your vet can identify solutions that keep you, others and your pet safe.
You’re a great pet owner!
You’ve read this post to the end, so you’re a curious and great pet owner! This means you probably want more information. Just check out the CDC’s COVID-19 and Animals Frequently Asked Questions.