What you should know about pets and COVID-19

The information below is relevant as of March 20, 2020. This is a rapidly changing situation and this page will be updated as the crisis evolves.

While extensive media coverage of the COVID-19 crisis continues, reliable information regarding its impact on the safety of pets and pet owners has been scarce. We’ve put together the information below to help you better understand the situation and highlight some basic safety measures.

There’s little supporting evidence that COVID-19 could be transmitted from pets to humans.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 strain is spread through person-to-person contact. The ASPCA claims there have been no reports of pets or livestock becoming infected by the coronavirus in the US. This claim is supported by a similar statement from the World Health Organization, saying there is no evidence that cats and dogs have become ill from the virus at this time.

On March 13, a press release from IDEXX Laboratories (a network of 80 veterinary diagnostic laboratories) announced that after evaluating thousands of cats and dogs, no positive results were observed in pets.

In theory, COVID-19 could be transmitted from person-to-person through a pet’s haircoat.

According to Dr Scott Weese, from the Ontario Veterinary College’s Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses, animal fur is likely similar to other hand contact surfaces. On his blog, he mentions, “If someone is infected and touches or coughs on their pet, it’s reasonable to assume the virus could be deposited on the coat.” The ASPCA advises following the usual basic hygiene practices around cats and dogs, including washing hands before and after coming into contact with pets, their food and supplies.

Pets’ basic needs should be considered as part of an emergency plan.

While the government does not worried about food shortage, the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends having an emergency kit of basic supplies ready at all times. This kit should include things like bottled water, dried foods and canned goods, a flashlight and a first aid kit. To make sure your pet’s needs are met, the ASPCA recommends keeping a 30-day supply of their medication, as well as at least two weeks’ worth of food.

Contact your veterinary clinic before showing up.

As always, if your cat or dog is showing any signs of illness (including coughing, sneezing or unusual behaviour), you should contact your veterinary clinic for advice and make an appointment if necessary.

The COVID-19 crisis is having a major impact on many businesses, and veterinary clinics are no different. For the moment, it’s a good idea to contact your clinic before visiting. If you present symptoms of COVID-19 and are currently in isolation, send someone else to the clinic for you. If this is not possible, contact the clinic to discuss consultation options and follow the recommended safety measures at all times.