Updated on April 27, 2020
By Dr. Katy Nelson, DVM
As communities around the world respond to the new coronavirus (COVID-19), you should have the most up-to-date information on how it impacts you and your pets.
Because we know that pets can become infected, you should take every precaution to not give the virus to your pets. And this may mean that someone else will need to care for them until you are no longer contagious.
You should have a plan in place for your pet’s care in case you become sick with COVID-19. Here are some ways you can prepare.
Q: What if I get COVID-19 and have to be quarantined?
A: Stock up on essential supplies for you and your pet to last 2-4 weeks.
Pets are at risk of contracting this disease, so you should create a plan of action for yourself and your pets in case of an emergency situation. COVID-19 is a great reminder to create that plan now if you haven’t already developed one.
If you need to quarantine, make sure you have a supply of the following items that lasts 2-4 weeks:
- Food and water
- Prescription and preventive medications (don’t forget flea and tick, heartworm)
- Emergency and hygiene supplies
Q: How do I care for my pets if I get sick?
A: Designate someone to care for them, wash your hands before and after contact, and don’t kiss or hug your pet.
Develop a strategy in case you may not be able to care for your pets. Contact a neighbor, your veterinarian, and/or a local boarding facility to secure temporary housing in your time of need.
If you are ill with COVID-19, or other contagious illnesses, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends that you “have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding, and playing with your pet. If you have a service animal, or you must care for your pet, then wear a facemask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with your pet or service animal.”
Q: What if my pet needs to go to the vet while I’m sick?
A: If it’s an emergency, ask a public health official about transport, and alert your veterinarian.
If your pet requires routine care while you are sick (annual exams, vaccinations, elective surgeries or routine monitoring), ask your veterinarian to reschedule to a later date when you are healthy.
If your pet requires immediate or emergency care, contact your local public health official to determine the best course of action to transport your pet to the veterinarian. Alert your veterinarian that you have been ill so they can take effective measures to protect themselves from the possibility of exposure.
Q: I think my pet is ill—what do I do?
A: See your veterinarian.
If your pet shows signs of illness, and they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, see your veterinarian immediately for a full workup.
According to the AVMA, “routine testing of domestic animals for COVID-19 is not being recommended by the AVMA, CDC, USDA, or the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD).”
Tests may be done by official order through a collaborative decision made by local, state, and federal animal and public health officials.
This is a rapidly developing situation, and we encourage you to follow the CDC and WHO’s websites for further information. Take all of the necessary precautions to stay safe, and have a plan ready for you and your pet.