With the global COVID-19 pandemic affecting the lives of people everywhere, many have questions and concerns about their pets’ health and safety. While the virus is new and medical professionals are continually learning new information about the diseases the virus SARS-CoV-2 causes, there is a general consensus that household pets have a very low risk for infection. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, only five pets have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 across the globe (as of May 9) in contrast to the 5 million people testing positive. Additionally, these cases are correlated with a pet testing positive after spending time with an infected human. In laboratory settings, certain domestic animals have the potential of being carriers of the virus, yet natural spread is suspected to be rare. The available information suggests that pets are not a source of infection for humans, while humans have a small potential to spread the virus to animals.
What does this mean? If you or another person in your life tests positive for COVID-19 or exhibits symptoms (please seek medical guidance from your doctor), it may be worthwhile to limit contact with your pets or have a trusted person care for them in the short term. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend social distancing for pets similar to guidelines set for humans, so keep interactions primarily to pets and people in the same household. Although this time of public health uncertainty can be stressful and scary, there is no major cause for alarm regarding pet health. If at any time you have concerns about your pet’s health, the best course of action is to contact your veterinarian for guidance.
New information is continually being released about COVID-19 as scientists, epidemiologists, and medical professionals conduct research and collect data, and it is important to follow the recommendations of trusted medical sources. Please refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health for further information and guidance on public health measures for your family, both human and pets.
Sources: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov), The American Veterinary Medical Association (avma.org)