With the CDC (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) announcement that the Novel Coronavirus, officially referred to as COVID 19, is now a concern in the US and that we should all take precautions to prevent the transmission of the disease as well as to prepare for the chance that the virus becomes more widespread. This includes making preparations for our pets and how we interact with them to prevent further transmission of this disease.
Can we get the Novel Coronavirus from our pets? Can we give it to them? According to the distinguished emeritus professor at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Niels Pedersen, the simple answer is “no we cannot give or get the, COVID-19 Novel Corona Virus to our pets.” Virtually every species of animal, including we humans, can contract some form of coronavirus. In fact, we have known for many of occurrences of coronaviruses in dogs and cats. These occurrences are usually associated with an unapparent intestinal or respiratory infection and are mostly not fatal. Because coronaviruses are usually very species specific, coronavirus being transmitted from one species to another is very uncommon. Simply put, despite sharing the same, somewhat scary name, coronaviruses in animals are not all the same as COVID-19.
So how do pet owners prepare for a more severe outbreak of COVID-19 in the US, even if it is unlikely? First, realize that there is nothing wrong with being prepared or to practice proper hygiene. There is no need to buy up all of the N95 rated masks you can find, hole up in your home or avoid contact with others as the CDC has clearly stated, there is currently a very small risk of contracting the disease with only a handful of reported cases. Using common sense and good hygiene is always the best defense against any type of cold or viral infection and COVID-19 is no different. Here are preparations and preventative measure recommendations from medical professionals and the CDC.
Simple, Common Sense Actions:
- Make sure you have all of your pets immunizations up to date and they have a proper collar with current identification information
- Food and water for at least 2 weeks for each pet
- For cats: litter box and litter – 2 week supply
- For dogs: plastic bags for poop – 2 week supply
- Sufficient medications for at least 2 weeks
- Wash and sanitize water and food bowls daily
- Humans - wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Using hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available is an acceptable option.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. This one is huge!
- Stay home when you are sick. Consider telecommuting when possible.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you feel you must wear a mask, this is when you should consider it, to keep others from being contaminated with your germs.
These recommendations don’t just apply to COVID-19, they are simply common sense good practices. Being prepared and practicing good hygiene will make sure that you and your pet will have the best chances of remaining healthy and happy!