News of the Coronavirus reaching the United States raises questions about people and their pets. This is what we know so far.

Covid-19 first emerged in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. While there is a lot speculation on where it originated, at this point we simply don’t know the specific source other than it didn’t originate as a human coronavirus.

Can I give it to my pet or get it from my pet?

coronavirus and dogs catsAccording to Dr. Niels Pederson, a distinguished emeritus professor at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and a renowned expert on infectious and immunologic diseases in dogs and cats the Coronavirus, COVID-19, is not transferable between you and your pet.

“No, you won’t get or give the coronavirus to your family pet. Coronaviruses occur in virtually every species of animal, including humans, and are commonly associated with unapparent or transient intestinal and respiratory infections. They tend to be very species-specific and cross-species transmission is uncommon.

Coronaviruses have adapted themselves by mutation over a period of 50,000 years or more to virtually every species of animal, including humans. They only cause disease in their new species and tend to remain in that species in whatever genetic form that allows adaptation to their new hosts.”

A recent article in the New York Times cites that “both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the World Organization for Animal Health have issued advisories saying there is no evidence that companion animals can spread the virus. “Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare,” the animal health organization said.

We recently attended a conference where an epidemiologist from CSU spoke. A distinction he made is that while it is highly unlikely pets can get sick from Covid19, your furry companions can still act as fomites, meaning that if a pet were to lick an infected person the dog becomes a carrier that may cause infections in others.

We are still in the learning phase. As such, we still recommend taking some precautions.

Is there a vaccine?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus and to follow strict hand-washing and other hygiene protocols.

What precautions should I take?

Below are WHO protocols for helping to slow or stop the spread of the virus:

  • Hand to hand contact is the biggest carrier of the disease. Designate your home/workplace as a temporary NO HANDSHAKE ZONE. Ask guests, colleagues or clients to refrain from shaking hands (fist bumps or forearm bumps are good substitutes).
  • Practice good hygiene: Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the restroom; before eating; after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; and between client/patient visits.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%-95% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. This is one reason that wearing masks can actually promote the spread of disease. If you are touching your face more often with your hands because you are wearing a mask, you are potentially increasing the likelihood of contracting the virus.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth, then throw the tissue into the trash can.
  • We also use this guide to prevent the spread of disease among veterinary personnel and to/from clients by following guidelines and procedures laid out in the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarian’s Compendium of Veterinary Standard Precautions for Zoonotic Disease Prevention in Veterinary Personnel. While the primary focus of this resource is controlling the spread of pathogens between animals and veterinary personnel, many of its principles apply to infection control in general and following it is simply good practice.

What are we doing as a business with public access?

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  • Animal Care Center has implemented the policy of hourly disinfection of high use of public surfaces (wiping and mopping regularly).
  • We are adding additional disinfection protocols between client/patient visits.
  • We have become a “No Hand Shake” Zone. Please know we want a personal connection, but not viral transfer.
  • We have eliminated all magazines and other common use paraphernalia from our front office and exam rooms.
  • We are no longer offering the use of common leashes, please remember to bring a leash for your pet.

What are the symptoms?

COVID-19 symptoms are similar to those of influenza (e.g., fever, cough, and shortness of breath), and the current outbreak is occurring during a time of year when respiratory illnesses from influenza and other viruses, including other coronaviruses that cause the common cold, are highly prevalent.

To prevent influenza and possible unnecessary evaluation for COVID-19, all persons more than 6 months old should receive an annual influenza vaccine. Vaccines are still available and effective in helping to prevent influenza.

Resources to Stay Informed on COVID-19

CDC: Prevent Getting Sick