As the coronavirus continues to spread across the U.S., families are reminded to take precautions for keeping loved ones healthy. This includes things like thorough hand washing, eating well, getting enough rest, and avoiding people with compromised immune systems.
But what about our furry family members? Can they catch the coronavirus? What steps can we take to protect them from this illness?
The good news is that, according to the World Organization for Animal Health, there is no evidence of risk for cats and dogs to catch this strain of coronavirus (called Covid-19 or 2019-nC0V) . There are canine and feline coronaviruses out there that can range from mild with few symptoms to very serious with symptoms like nausea and diarrhea but these aren't transmitted to people.
Here are a few things to keep in mind about protecting yourself, your pets, and being prepared to deal with the coronavirus.
Can the virus spread from pets to people?
As of right now, there is no evidence that pets and companion animals can catch or spread Covid-19. However, we are still in 'cold and flu season' and other respiratory infections are highly contagious; use good hygiene around animals and keep pets away from friends and family feeling under the weather.
Have any cats or dogs tested positive for this virus?
Recently, it was reported that a dog belonging to a coronavirus patient in Hong Kong tested for the virus and did have some levels in the nose and mouth. However, the dog has shown no signs of illness. Doctors think the dog might have been exposed to the virus from his owner or other surfaces. As any Brook Farm family will tell you, dog noses and mouths come into contact with just about everything.
What precautions should I take as a pet owner?
It's always a good idea to wash your hands often and especially after contact with your cat or dog. Make certain your friend isn't exposed to any one with a cold or flu. Check that all pets are up to date on wellness visits and vaccines; pets who are ill or suffering health issues are very susceptible to other diseases due to their weakened immune systems.
Do I need to prepare for an emergency outbreak?
Right now, there's no reason to panic. If you're very concerned about an outbreak, you may get peace of mind having emergency supplies on hand. Just remember to include plenty of pet food, bottled water, and at least a week's worth of any medications your pet needs.
What should I do if I suspect my pet is sick or has been around someone sick with coronavirus?
Jut remember, it is very unlikely your cat or dog will catch Covid-19. But if your pet seems ill after contact with any one who has the coronavirus, call the Brook Farm team right away! In cases of suspected cold, flu, or coronavirus exposure, call us first before stopping in. We can arrange care quickly and limit other patients' risk of contact.
My dog usually gets a flu shot and I've read there are vaccines for other types of canine coronaviruses. Should I get all those done just in case?
Current coronavirus vaccines for dogs are designed for strains that cause intestinal illness. These vaccines aren't designed for respiratory disease and there is no evidence they have any preventative effect on Covid-19. A canine flu vaccine isn't a preventative for coronavirus, either, but it can help your pooch avoid the flu and opportunistic diseases that swoop in during the flu.
For any concerns or questions, call your Brook Farm family. Keeping your pets healthy and strong is our number one goal. We're here for you any time.