COVID-19 and Pets: Calm Anxious Pet Owners
There is no evidence that dogs or cats have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans. Yet, confusion among pet owners exists, creating questions and, worse, panic. Veterinary nurses, technicians and front-office staff are often the first to field questions from anxious pet owners. Here are our tips for dispelling the myths about COVID-19 and pets, educating your clients, and answering questions from pet owners.
1) Reassure your clients that you are keeping up to date on the latest information related to COVID-19 and pets. Make sure you are using the correct terminology, to avoid misinformation being disseminated. The betacoronavirus that causes COVID-19 is SARS-CoV-2 (formerly 2019-nCoV). While person-to-person and community spread has been reported in numerous countries, including the United States, stress that infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets become ill with COVID-19 or that they spread it to other animals, including people.
2) Ask your client if they have or anyone else in the family has tested positive for COVID-19. If no one in the family is ill, tell the pet owner that they can walk, feed and play with their family pet as they normally would.
3) Encourage the practice of good hygiene — tell them to wash their hands before and after interacting with their pet and to regularly clean their pet’s food and water bowls, bedding and toys.
4) If the pet owner reports that they are ill with COVID-19, ask them if another member of the household can walk, feed, and play with their pet. Out of an abundance of caution, the AVMA is recommending that ill pet owners wear a facemask and refrain from sharing food, kisses, or hugs with their pets, and, of course, washing hands before and after any contact with them. Explain that until more information is known about the virus, following good hygiene habits can help ensure both the pet owner and their animals stay healthy. Again, stress that there is no evidence that dogs or cats have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans.
The AVMA has published a PDF that addresses commonly asked questions they’ve received about COVID-19 and pets.
The CDC also has a Frequently Asked Questions page.