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Should You Worry About Your Pet and Coronavirus?

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The family dog, cat or other pet certainly counts as good company in this stressful time. While practicing social distancing, a pet can soothe a sense of loneliness. Walking and playing with pets can also lead to health benefits, like lowering your blood pressure. Some pet owners may worry whether coronavirus poses a risk to their furry or feathered friends. Here are the facts.

COVID-19 May Pose a Risk for Pets

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is very limited evidence to date that pets can get sick from or transmit COVID-19. Keep in mind, though, this specific type of coronavirus is new, so data is still being gathered.

Health experts do know that coronavirus seems to have started in a live animal market in China. As with other similar viruses, this one may have come from an animal.

Certain animals can become ill from different kinds of coronaviruses. But these viruses are rarely passed on to people.

Precautions to Take If You or a Loved One Is Sick

Even though there is no evidence that COVID-19 can affect your pet, the CDC still recommends avoiding contact with animals if you are sick, especially if you have coronavirus. Treat your pet like others in your home:

  • Don’t let your pet lick you
  • Don’t share food with your pet
  • Don’t snuggle, kiss or hug your pet
  • Stay away from your pet as much as possible

While you are sick, another person in your home should look after the pet. If that’s not possible, always wash your hands before and after taking caring of your pet. If you notice any new illness in your pet, contact a veterinarian right away.

The veterinarian may be able to assess your pet via a video or telephone call. If that’s not possible, arrange for someone who lives outside your home to take your pet to the animal clinic.

Other Ways to Protect Your Family and Pet

Your pet may not be a source of coronavirus. But it may still pass on other diseases. To help protect your family and your pet from any illness, the CDC advises these regular animal care tips:

Always wash your hands. Frequent hand-washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds should be the norm now in your household. Or, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Make sure everyone washes their hands after playing with the family pet. Also, make a habit of doing so after handling your pet’s food waste or supplies. This includes water and food bowls, toys and bedding.

Treat bites and scratches right away. Clean them with antibacterial soap and water to prevent infection.

Clean up after your pet. Always pick up dog waste. Clean out cat litter every day and replace it at least two times a week.

If possible, clean supplies or cages outside your home. Or use a laundry sink or bathtub and disinfect it afterward right away. It’s also best to not store pet supplies in the kitchen, where you prepare your own food.

Schedule regular vet visits. Make sure your pet is up to date on vaccines and annual checkups. Talk with your vet right away about any new symptoms that concern you.

As of now, the CDC does not advise routine testing for COVID-19 in animals.

More Pertinent Pet Advice

If you are thinking about adopting a pet from a shelter, health experts say it’s okay to do so.

Finally, don’t forget to pick up food and treats for your pet when you go out for essentials. Like shopping for other members of your family, buy only what your pet needs for the near future. There is no reason to stock up on more than you would on a typical shopping trip.

More of the Information You Need

Find videos and more helpful content at our Coronavirus Resource Hub. We’re here to help you and your family — including any pets — through this uncertain time.

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