Many people have recently become aware of a family of viruses called Coronaviridae. These viruses have caused dangerous human and animal diseases, including pandemic COVID-19, also known as SARS-CoV-2. Virologists agree that this virus has originated from an animal source. Still, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have all stated that “dogs and cats are not a source of infection.” There was a single case of a Pomeranian dog in Hong Kong on March 1, 2020, who tested positive for COVID-19.

Further testing concluded that this was the result of human-to-dog transmission. The dog involved never became ill and was not a source of infection. No case of COVID-19 infecting cats has ever been identified.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the CDC, OIE, and WHO have created the following guidelines:

  1. When handling and caring for animals, always implement basic hygiene measures; this includes handwashing before and after being around animals, their food, or supplies, and avoiding kissing, licking, or sharing food.

  2. When possible, people who are sick or under medical attention for COVID-19 should avoid close contact with pets and have another member of the household care for their animals. If you are ill and must look after a pet, maintain good hygiene practices and wear a mask if possible.

  3. Restrict contact with animals, just like you would when interacting with other people.

What to do if you have a sick animal?

COVID-19 is not thought to affect pets, but pets can still become ill for a variety of other reasons. To safely provide for our pets’ needs, you may be asked to call before entering a veterinary clinic and to wait outside once you have arrived; this will allow us to address your animal health concerns without increasing the risk of human-to-human COVID-19 transmission. If we already have a current existing relationship with your pet, we may be able to offer medical advice over the telephone (telemedicine).

Why is my dog/cat coughing?

Coughing is a clinical sign of tracheal irritation that can be caused by numerous allergic, cardiovascular, infectious, parasitic and cancer-related reasons. If your dog or cat is coughing, it is not likely related to COVID-19, but it can still be a cause for concern. Most cases of coughing can be successfully treated if diagnosed by your veterinarian.

Some personal thoughts on COVID for pet owners

Pets depend on us for their happiness and longevity. They also supply a much-needed source of comfort and stress relief during difficult times. At the World of Animals, keeping your pet healthy remains our constant goal. Please help us achieve this goal by looking after your own needs and frequently referring to updated local, national (AVMA, CDC), and international (OIE, WHO) guidelines for COVID-19 and other transmissible diseases. Most diseases of animals can be prevented, mitigated, or treated with trained veterinary health professionals. These animal illnesses remain a cause of distress and discomfort for our trusted companions, even if they do not directly cause problems for humans.