Wow, what a year 2020 has been! Thank you to everyone for being so flexible and gracious with our altered curb side protocol to help keep you and our staff safe from COVID-19.
One question I get a lot nowadays is if pets can get COVID. As of today, there have been four domestic cats that have tested positive, three dogs, and several lions and tigers worldwide. In one lab in China researchers were able to experimentally infect cats and ferrets with COVID-19, but dogs showed to be poor hosts. Given that there have been over 4 million human cases of COVID worldwide, these are relatively small numbers. Currently, it does not appear that pets are particularly susceptible to COVID or develop serious disease from the virus.
There is no current evidence that pets can spread the virus to people via respiratory or droplet transmission. However, in theory pets can act as a “fomite” to spread the virus. For example, if I have COVID and cough on your dog, then you pet your dog, then rub your nose, it is possible you could contract the virus. With that said, COVID-19 lives much better on smooth surfaces like countertops than porous surfaces like fur.
To be safe, the CDC recommends having another person take care of your pets if you have COVID-19. If you do not have a friend or family member to care for your pet, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends you shelter in place with your pet. If you need hospitalization and can not care for your pet, Washoe County Animal Services may be able to provide temporary shelter. It always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals including washing hands before and after interacting with animals or handling their food, waste or supplies.
This is an evolving situation and as time goes on and more research is done, more information will likely become available. We are always here to answer your questions!
Stay safe and healthy,
Dr. Christina Martini