Updated as of 5/1/2020
What Is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses include many viruses with particular strains that can infect mammals, birds and fish. One common virus for dogs is canine coronavirus, which typically causes mild gastrointestinal symptoms in dogs. For cats, there is feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) which can cause severe disease in cats. Though these coronaviruses all belong to the Coronaviridae family, they are not associated with the COVID-19 outbreak that we are seeing in the human population currently.
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What About the Current Human Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak?
As you are likely aware, COVID-19 (short for “Coronavirus Disease 2019”) was initially diagnosed in China in December of 2019. It has been described as causing flu-like symptoms in humans, with severity ranging from mild to more severe respiratory illness, including pneumonia. Though the exact source of the outbreak remains unknown, the virus has now spread to countries throughout the world, including the U.S., often transmitted via “community spread” (person-to-person spread).
Can Dogs and Cats Get COVID-19?
According to the CDC, there is now evidence that COVID-19 can spread from humans to animals, though not many cases of this have been reported. It is a rapidly evolving situation that is being monitored by both the AVMA and the CDC.
How Can I Protect My Pets from COVID-19?
Both the CDC and the FDA recommend following these guidelines to protect your pets from possible infection:
- Don’t allow pets to interact with anyone (or their animals) outside of your household
- Keep cats inside if you can
- Use a leash and make sure to keep your dog 6 feet from both humans and other animals
- Avoid gathering spots for people and animals, including dog parks
Should I Avoid Contact with My Pet If I am Diagnosed with COVID-19?
While only a few of the animals who have tested positive showed signs of illness, if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, it is best to limit contact with your pets. The CDC recommends having another member of your household care for your pets if possible. And if not, they recommend wearing a cloth face mask and washing hands thoroughly both before and after interacting with pets. If you think your pet might have COVID-19, don’t go directly to the clinic – call first to discuss symptoms and get advice from your veterinarian.