COVID-19 has turned life as we know it upside down, and things are changing by the hour. Recently, reports of dogs and cats (even tigers!) contracting COVID-19 made headlines, which sent pet owners all over the country into a panic – do I need to worry about my pet giving me COVID-19? Can I give my pet COVID-19? Here are some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding COVID-19:
What is COVID-19 and where did it come from?
COVID-19 is a novel virus that is caused by SARS-CoV-2, of which is thought to have originated in bats. COVID-19 is suspected to have spread to humans in a food market in the Hubei province in Wuhan, China as a result of animal-to-human spread. From there, the virus has spread person-to-person and reached over 100 locations around the world, including the United States, making it a global pandemic.
Where does the name ‘coronavirus’ come from?
COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus, which is a broader term for a group of common viruses that can affect our nose, throat, and sinuses. Some coronaviruses are more serious than others; for example, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is caused by a coronavirus, and can be deadly. However, not all forms of coronavirus are as severe as SARS or COVID-19 and are no worse than a common cold.
Are canine and feline coronaviruses the same as COVID-19?
Coronaviruses can affect a number of different species. Canine (CCoV) and feline (FCoV) coronavirus are unique to each species and cannot be transferred to people or animals outside of their species. In both dogs and cats, species-specific coronavirus causes gastrointestinal symptoms rather than respiratory symptoms. Neither canine nor feline coronavirus is related to COVID-19, and pets with species-specific coronavirus do not pose a threat for humans contracting COVID-19.
Can dogs and cats contract COVID-19?
The main way that COVID-19 is spread is human-to-human contact. The World Health Organization (WHO) is aware of some instances of animals and pets testing positive for COVID-19 after being exposed to humans who were presumed or confirmed positive for COVID-19. Animals that might be susceptible include cats, tigers, and ferrets. While still under investigation, there is no evidence to suggest that these animals are capable of spreading COVID-19 to humans.
As of 4/23/2020, there have been two confirmed cases of coronavirus in cats in the United States. Both cats live in different areas within New York and experienced mild respiratory symptoms. Both cats are expected to make a full recovery and are not considered a risk for transmitting COVID-19 to humans.
As COVID-19 is an evolving situation, we will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.
Someone in my household has tested positive or is presumed positive for COVID-19. Should I be worried about my pets?
In the event that someone in your household becomes infected with COVID-19, there are several things you can do to keep your pet safe. It is important to note that you do not need to remove your pet from your household. Do not board your pet, as they have already been exposed and you would be putting others at risk. Instead, the infected person should avoid contact with household pets as much as possible – no petting, hugging, or kissing. The infected person should avoid handling the pet’s food, water, toys, and bedding, too. The same rules should apply for any person providing direct care for the infected person.
In cases where the infected person is the sole care provider for the pet, we recommend wearing a facial covering around your pet, washing your hands thoroughly before handling any food or water being provided to your pet, and keeping physical contact to a minimum. If you are having difficulties caring for your pet due to your COVID-19 symptoms, please reach out to your veterinarian for further advice and instruction on how to care for your pet during this time.
What symptoms do I need to watch for?
Several of the animals who tested positive for COVID-19 did not show symptoms. Of the confirmed pet cases so far, dogs did not show any symptoms, while the tiger and cats showed mild respiratory symptoms.
Mild to severe respiratory symptoms can occur with a number of different respiratory illnesses - including kennel cough, pneumonia, upper respiratory disease, and canine distemper - and are not specific to COVID-19. Symptoms may include:
Watery eyes/ocular discharge
Coughing (mucus or phlegm may be present or non-present)
Loss of appetite
We recommend contacting your veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms, regardless of COVID-19 exposure, for further medical instruction. Any pets exhibiting any symptoms should be separated from other pets in the household until they can be assessed. Please disclose any possible COVID-19 exposure when discussing your pet’s symptoms with veterinary staff.
Seek emergency medical care immediately if your pet is struggling to breathe. Signs of respiratory distress include extremely labored breathing, crackling sounds during breathing, foam from nose or mouth, and blue or gray colored gums. Call and inform ER staff of any possible COVID-19 exposure* on your way to the ER so they can prepare.
*Possible exposure includes you or anyone in your household being in close contact (within 6 ft.) of someone who has recently traveled to heavily affected areas, is currently experiencing symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath), or who is presumed or confirmed positive for COVID-19. Please see the CDC’s website for a full list of affected areas and symptoms.
Can pets be tested for COVID-19?
Yes, animals can be tested for COVID-19 to confirm positive status, but routine testing of animals is not recommended at this time, according to public health officials. Presently, COVID-19 testing is not currently available in veterinary practices. All COVID-19 testing for pets is overseen and administered by the state animal health department. At this time, testing for pets is ordered on a case-by-case basis by the state rather than by owner request. Please contact your veterinarian if your pet begins showing COVID-19 symptoms after known exposure to a positive case of COVID-19 for further guidance.
Do I need to bathe or disinfect my pet if they have been handled by someone presumed or confirmed positive for COVID-19?
At this time, the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that bathing your pet is not necessary. However, if you would like to bathe your pet anyway, it is perfectly safe to do so. All you will need to get the job done is some pet-safe shampoo.
Do not attempt to disinfect or bathe your pet with cleaning agents or chemicals. Do not spray or wipe your pets down with things like Lysol wipes, diluted bleach, or hand sanitizer. These substances can be extremely toxic to pets when ingested (such as when your pet grooms themselves) and can cause stomach upset, respiratory irritation (when fumes are inhaled), severe skin irritation, chemical burns, or ulcers in the eyes or mouth. Make sure to keep all soap, sanitizer, and cleaning supplies locked up and out of reach of pets at all times.
What is the safest way to disinfect my home if I have pets?
Use dish soap and water to disinfect your pet’s food and water bowls. Do not ever use chemical agents such as Lysol, Clorox, or bleach to disinfect anything your pet eats out of. These agents can leave residual amounts that are toxic to pets when ingested. Dish soap and water can also be used to clean your cat’s litter box. Do not use bleach when cleaning a litter box, as harmful fumes are created when bleach mixes with cat urine and ammonia.
If you are needing to disinfect floors or surfaces in your home with chemical cleaning agents, ensure that your pet is in another room while you clean and do not let them out until the surfaces have dried completely. Walking across wet surfaces can cause the cleaning agent to make contact with your pet’s skin or paws. Additionally, the fumes in cleaning chemicals or aerosol sprays can cause respiratory irritation, so give the room ample time to air out before reintroducing your pet to that area.
To wash your pet’s bedding, use hot water and your normal laundry detergent. Your detergent does not need to contain bleach to be effective. When adding bleach to your laundry loads, use only the recommended ratios as instructed on the label. Using more does not make the bleach any more effective and can cause skin irritation and ruin fabric. Allow bedding or blankets to fully dry before putting them down for your pets.
Should I board my pets or send them to the groomer/doggie daycare at this time?
We recommend keeping your pets at home with you whenever possible. There are still some unknowns surrounding COVID-19 and pets, and we recommend limiting your pet’s activities outside of the home to essential matters only, such as going to the vet for vaccines or illness. You should not need to board your pet unless you are being required to travel or are incapacitated by illness and cannot care for your pet yourself.
If possible, we recommend bathing pets at home and putting off all unnecessary grooming appointments for the time being. Generally, most pets only require a bath when they become visibly dirty or soil themselves or bedding. To avoid matted fur, brush your long-haired pets once every day or every few days to keep their coat from tangling. If you are unable to bathe your pet at home or by yourself, please give us a call and we can set up a time for your pet to be brought in for a bath.
Prosper Trail Animal Hospital is still offering boarding and bathing as part of our curbside services, by appointment only. Please call for more details.
Should I start grooming my pet at home?
Tangled or matted fur can be painful for pets and irritate the skin. Once your pet’s fur has become matted, you will not be able to brush out the mats (and attempting to do so will be very painful for your pet) and they will need to be removed. If your pet becomes matted while in quarantine, you can attempt to remove the mats by carefully using electric clippers to remove the mats. If your pet is severely matted or has matting near their face, please call and schedule an appointment with us to remove the mats.
If you would like to attempt to groom your pet yourself, we advise proceeding with caution, especially if you have never groomed your pet before. Using scissors or electrical clippers, especially around your pet’s face or sensitive regions, can result in serious injury if they jerk or move while you are grooming them. Electric clipper blades can become extremely hot and burn or irritate your pet’s skin, which can lead to irritation, licking, and skin infections. Do not use hair dryers intended for humans on your pet as they can cause severe burns on your pet’s skin under their fur.
Is it safe for my pets to go outside or on walks?
As it is believed that humans can transmit COVID-19 to animals, we recommend keeping all free-roaming pets indoors at this time to limit possible exposure to infected humans. While it is safe to walk your pet, public places like popular walking trails, dog parks, and other places where people tend to gather should also be avoided. If you decide to take your pet for a walk, they should be leashed at all times and maintain at least 6 feet of distance between other people and animals.
Additionally, as we are still learning about how COVID-19 is transferred between humans and animals, pets should not be interacting with anyone outside of their household at this time. Currently, social distancing recommendations discourage having visitors in your home for any non-essential reason. If it is necessary for someone outside of the household to enter the home, they should avoid all contact with pets and surfaces touched by the guest should be disinfected upon their departure.
What should I do if my pet needs to see their vet?
Veterinary offices are considered essential business and our office remains open so that we can provide care for our patients. Just as humans go to their doctor’s office when they are sick or in need preventative care is essential, so is taking your pet to the vet. We recommend bringing your pet in to the vet for the following reasons:
There are very few types of veterinary appointments that are not considered essential. Your pet’s annual vaccinations – especially for puppies and kittens – are essential to your pet’s health and wellness. A lapse in vaccines can make your pet susceptible to the diseases we vaccinate for, so call and schedule an appointment if your pet is coming up due for their vaccines. Heartworm tests are often due around the same time as annual vaccines, so we can refill your monthly heartworm prevention at this time, too.
Sick appointments refer to your pet needing to be seen for any recent change in their health or the presence of new or alarming symptoms. Sick appointments may be required for things like:
Blood in stools or urine
Loss of appetite
Ear or skin infections
Incontinence or frequent urination
Excessive licking/chewing or hair loss
Respiratory symptoms – coughing, sneezing
Nasal or ocular discharge
Redness in the eye, squinting/holding eye shut
Unexplained behavioral changes – anxiety, fear, aggression
New lumps or masses
Your pet’s comfort and safety is our top priority. If your pet hasn’t been acting themselves lately, give us a call so we can assess your pet and get them back on track to feeling better.
Additionally, we are still performing surgery in the hospital. Procedures such as spays, neuters, dental cleanings, mass removals, and more are all imperative for the health and well being of our pets. As always, our surgical procedures are performed by our veterinarians with the assistance of an experienced surgical technician. In spite of the national shortage of personal protective equipment, we have the ability to sterilize all of our surgical tools, equipment, and surgical gowns in-hospital using an autoclave and continue to follow the same strict surgical protocols that we always have.
Please give us a call at 972-347-6100 to speak with a member of our staff if you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s health.
How is Prosper Trail Animal Hospital responding to the global pandemic and practicing social distancing?
The safety of our clients, patients, and staff is always our top priority. In response to recent events, Prosper Trail Animal Hospital has made the decision to close our lobby to clients to limit possible exposure and do our part to flatten the curve.
While our lobby may be closed, Prosper Trail Animal Hospital is still fully-functioning, and we are continuing to provide all of our regular services. To practice social distancing while providing care for our patients, we now offer curbside services to minimize human-to-human contact. Our curbside services include wellness and sick appointments, surgery and boarding drop-off and pick-up, bathing services, medication refills, and food orders.
Inside our building, our staff is participating in daily screens to monitor each other fro any new or concerning symptoms. Staff members have been instructed to stay home and focus on getting well before returning to help care for out patients if they fall ill. In addition to practicing proper hand hygiene, our staff is following the CDC's recommendations regarding facial coverings to protect themselves and others. We are diligent as ever in cleaning and disinfecting all floors, surfaces, and treatment areas to protect the safety of our staff and patients.
How does curbside service work?
Curbside service allows us to continue to provide all of our regular services without our clients ever needing to get out of their car. When you arrive for your appointment, stay in your car and give us a call at 972-347-6100 to let the front desk staff know that you have arrived for your appointment. Once you are “checked in,” a technician will call you and obtain a medical history and make note of any questions or concerns you would like addressed over the phone. Your technician will provide you with a detailed estimate over the phone before coming out to get your pet. For the safety of your pet, we ask that all animals be contained in a carrier or by wearing a secure leash or harness.
Your pet will be brought inside to their doctor who will conduct their exam as usual. All necessary services will be performed in a private treatment area, and you will be called if any additional services or diagnostics are recommended. Once your pet is brought back out to you, the doctor will call you and discuss the exam findings and go over any questions you may have. Once all of your concerns have been addressed, the technician will bring out any medications or paperwork to be sent home with your pet and our front desk staff will obtain payment over the phone.
Surgery drop-off times are between 7:30 AM and 8:00 AM. When you arrive to drop your pet off for their procedure, please call the front desk to “check in.” The surgical technician will give you a call to go over the surgical estimate, confirm that your pet has been fasted, and go over any questions you may have regarding your pet’s procedure.
Once your pet’s procedure is done, the veterinarian will call and update you on how the procedure went. They will give you an estimated pick-up time for later that afternoon. When you arrive to pick up your pet, call the front desk to let them know you have arrived and your pet will be brought out to you with all of their medications and e-collar.
Boarding or Bath Drop-Off
When you arrive to drop your pet off, please call the front desk to “check in.” A staff member will come out to collect your pet (and any food or belongings). At this time, we ask that owners limit pet belongings to their food, medications, leash, collar, or carrier. We have plenty of bedding that your pet can use while staying with us and ask that bulky bedding or blankets be left at home to protect our staff from possible exposure. Please have your pet’s belongings easily accessible. When you arrive to pick your pet up, just give us a call and someone will bring your pet and their belongings back out to you.
Medication Refills or Food Purchases
If you are needing to purchase pet food or refill your pet’s medication, please call the front desk before you arrive to ensure that the items are in stock and ready for you when you arrive. You will be notified when the items are ready to be picked up. When you arrive, please call the front desk to pay for your items over the phone and a staff member will bring your items out to your car.
I think it is time for my pet to cross the rainbow bridge. How is euthanasia being handled in your clinic during this time?
Our hearts are with anyone who is having to make difficult decisions regarding their pet’s quality of life amidst all of the stress and chaos we are experiencing right now. If you have concerns about your pet and think it may be time, please give us a call and we will put you in touch with your pet’s veterinarian to discuss the best option for your pet. If you and your vet are in agreement that euthanasia is the best option for your pet, we will schedule a time for you and your pet to come in.
While we are limiting the number of people entering our hospital, we want owners to be allowed to spend those precious final moments with their pets. For the safety of our clients and staff, we encourage families to spend time and say their goodbyes prior to arriving at the hospital so we can limit the number of people accompanying the pet into the building. We may ask a few screening questions prior to you coming in, and will ask that anyone experiencing symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath) please refrain from entering the hospital.
Our front desk staff will call and discuss cremation options and obtain payment over the phone. At this time, we will also discuss paw print colors. Regardless of what cremation option is chosen for your pet, Prosper Trail Animal Hospital provides complimentary paw print impressions, painted in the colors of your choosing.
Once it is time, your doctor will come in and meet with you and explain the process, addressing any questions you may have at this time. You may be present with your pet for as long as you wish to be during the process. For more information about the euthanasia process and determining when the right time to say goodbye is, please refer to our blog: https://www.prosperanimalhospital.com/post/euthanasia
We are here for our clients and their pets during this difficult time. Please reach out if there is anything we can assist you or your pets with as our community continues to navigate this public health crisis. Please call us at 972-347-6100 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions or assistance.
TLDR (Too Long. Didn't Read);
There is no reason to worry about your pet giving you COVID-19,
Avoid contact with your pets if you start experiencing COVID-19 symptoms,
Pets do not need to be disinfected (even after possible exposure),
Be careful when using chemical cleaning agents around pets,
Don’t be shy about making an appointment if your pet is due for vaccines or isn’t feeling well – we are here to help!