Brookfield Animal Hospital has received several calls from pet owners regarding the current COVID-19, corona outbreak.
Here is the latest information, as we know it.
Can My Dog Or Cat Contract the Corona Virus?
Many have heard that a Hong Kong dog tested positive for COVID-19. The dog had been living with a woman confirmed to be infected with the disease. As a precaution, the dog was placed in isolation and several swabs of the dog’s nose and throat were tested. Each test returned a weak positive for the coronavirus. Initially these were thought to be false positives due to environmental contamination or some other testing anomaly, but after a week of study and testing, three academic institutions unanimously agreed that the dog was infected with the virus. It is important to note that the dog remains asymptomatic and that most health officials agree that it is extremely unlikely that dogs or cats can transmit the disease. As of March 13th, the Washington Post reported that the dog tested negative for COVID-19 antibodies, results that are consistent with a weak infection. The dog remains in isolation and continues to behave normally.
“Out of an abundance of caution, it is recommended that those ill with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. Have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding, and playing with your pet. If you have a service animal or you must care for your pet, then wear a facemask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with them.” American Veterinary Medical Association
If Dogs and Cats Can’t Transmit The Virus, Why Are We Supposed To Limit Interaction?
The restrictions are not in place because health officials believe you can give your pet COVID-19 or that you can become infected with COVID-19 by your pet. The restrictions are in place because it is still unclear how easily the virus can be transmitted in the environment. Epidemiologists worry that individuals sick with COVID-19 could transfer the virus from their hands onto the pet’s fur or that the virus could be tracked from the infected person to another person by way of the pet’s nose or footpads. To prevent this, the Connecticut Department of Health references the CDC’s recommendation that pet owners that test positive for COVID-19:
- Limit their interaction with their pets
- Wash their hands before and after touching their pets
- Don’t allow the pet to lick them
According to the CDC:
“You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.
When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask. See COVID-19 and Animals for more information.” The CDC ‘Corona Disease 2019‘
Is It Okay To Walk My Pet Outside During A Corona Outbreak?
If you are a pet owner, your dog will need to be walked regardless of a corona outbreak. The CDC has issued the following recommendations when going about your daily life during a COVID-19 outbreak:
- Effectively wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid close contact with people that are sick. The CDC recommends keeping a distance of six feet.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue. Immediately throw the tissue into a trashcan, and then wash or sanitize your hands.
- Frequently clean and disinfect heavily touched objects and surfaces including those in the workplace like keyboards, telephones, and desktops. The World Health Organization cites contact with contaminated surfaces a major source of COVID-19 infections.
How Can I Clean Surfaces If The Store Is Sold Out of Sanitizers?
It’s true that sanitizers are in short supply and the prices are climbing quickly. Fortunately there are two hacks that include ingredients that still may be available and reasonably priced. Before you try either of these, ensure that the surface you are disinfecting is clean. Dirt can serve as a barrier and prevent the sanitizer from working effectively.
Dilute 1 part bleach to 10 parts water and use the solution to wipe down inanimate surfaces that are not at risk of staining. Do NOT use this on pets or on your own skin. Do NOT mix with other chemicals. Allow the solution to sit on the surface for 5 minutes before wiping away with a clean paper towel.
99% Rubbing Alcohol
You can mix 1 part of rubbing alcohol with 1 part water in a spray bottle and use it to clean inanimate surfaces. Do NOT use this on your pets. Do NOT mix with other chemicals. You can mix 1 part aloe vera gel with 3 parts of 99% rubbing alcohol if you want to make a hand sanitizer.
Should I Stockpile Essential Pet Supplies?
The CDC recommends that people living in areas affected by COVID-19 stockpile 2 weeks of essential provisions incase you fall ill with COVID-19 and are unable to shop or if there is a breakdown in supply chains. If your pet is on a prescription diet, and you have room to store additional quantities of it, call us so that we can order it for you or you can use our online store and have it delivered to your home.
What If There Is A COVID-19 Outbreak And My Pet Needs Veterinary Care?
We at Brookfield Animal Hospital will do our best to serve our clients and patients through the duration of this outbreak. If we are unable to provide veterinary care during our regular business hours, we will post a notice on our Facebook page, on our website, and on our answering service. If we need to change your appointment for any reason, we will phone you or try to reach you by email.
Should I Buy A Facemask For My Dog Or Cat?
No. A mask will not prevent your pet from being exposed to COVID-19. If transfer of the virus occurs between a pet and a person, it will likely be because the pet is carrying the virus on his or her skin, paws, or nose. After touching your pet, wash your hands.
My Pet Needs Care, But I Don’t Want To Expose Myself or My Pet To Potential Infection
If your pet is in need of urgent care, but you cannot leave your home for whatever reason, please call us. We’ll work with you to figure out the best solution. If you don’t want to wait in our lobby or if you want to limit your exposure to others while at our practice, alert us before your appointment and we’ll work out a plan together. As a team, we’ve agreed to stay home if we are feeling ill or if a member of our household tests positive for COVID-19.
Other Considerations for Pet Owners If COVID-19 Becomes More Widespread?
Civil Restrictions Likely
A sudden surge in human COVID-19 infections could swamp our healthcare systems and weaken civil services like the police and fire departments, the postal service, and even the military. In an attempt to slow the progress of the disease, it is likely that the Federal government or the State of Connecticut could impose restrictions on travel and group activities or institute other measures to get ahead of the infection rate. Historically, such actions have proved to work effectively. An interactive chart shows how early action limits infection and death.
Brookfield’s Veterinary Services Schedule
During this outbreak, we will do everything we can to accommodate the health needs of your pet without putting our patients, our team members, our clients, or our community at risk. This is a dynamic situation and we may have to adjust daily to whatever new events unfold. Fortunately, we’re not a corporatized veterinary hospital, but a private, community-centric business and we can adapt our standard operating procedures as needed. In the event that we have to limit our caseload to urgent-only veterinary care or if have to change hours because of COVID-19-related issues, you can expect us to notify you by phone and email and for us to post notices on the home page of our website and on our Facebook account.
Hopefully this answers your questions, but certainly if you have other questions or more information that you would like to share, use the comments section below.