Keeping Pets Healthy During COVID-19 Pandemic

Though three pets outside of the United States have all tested positive for COVID-19, there’s no reason to panic, says Dr. Ellen Behrend, director of Auburn University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospitals and a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Clinical Sciences. Each of the pets lived with a person who tested positive for the virus.

Two if the infected animals were dogs that showed no symptoms of the disease; the third case was a cat that began showing respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms one week after the owner began showing signs of COVID-19. It is unclear if the virus was alive in any of the animals or if the cat tested positive, but was ill with another issue.

Additionally, a tiger housed at the Bronx Zoo in New York tested positive. It is unclear if animals transmit COVID-19 or if they are merely carriers of the virus. Though additional research is needed to determine how COVID-19 is passed between humans and animals, infection control measures should be in place no matter the species of pet.

Behrend suggests that any members of the home who are infected with COVID-19 not handle pets and practice social distancing. If the symptomatic person is the sole caregiver for the animals, they should wash hands well and wear a face mask while interacting with pets. If pets begin showing symptoms of COVID-19, their veterinarian should be contacted for guidance. The animal should be isolated from people and other animals, and touching and interacting should be limited.

To keep pets healthy, keep them away from crowded areas, maintain social distancing and limit contact with people, especially those with fever or respiratory issues.

For additional information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Read more at Auburn University.

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