Have you or has someone you know been diagnosed with COVID-19? If so, you are probably worried about your own health and the health of those around you. You might be asking yourself, “how can I protect my pets if I have COVID-19?” There are steps you can take to protect yourself and those you love if you have COVID-19.
What is the Risk to My Pets if I Have COVID-19?
The truth is that COVID-19 is a pretty new disease, and our medical professionals are still learning about it. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses and each one can act in different ways. Most only cause cold-like symptoms while others can be much worse.
The good news is that most coronaviruses only infect one kind of species. This means that the kind of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in people is not very likely to infect your pets. COVID-19 is very much a human illness. Because of this, pets are thought to be safe from infection.
That being said, it is believed that COVID-19 has spread from humans to their pets in some specialized cases. At the time of this writing, according to the USDA there have only been 61 reported cases of COVID-19 making the jump from a human to an animal. And in each of these cases, the animal was in very close proximity to a person who was confirmed to have COVID-19.
Even though there have been reported cases of COVID-19 in animals, it is important to remember that these cases are a minute fraction of all animals who have been in contact with a COVID-19 infected person. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) admits that more research needs to be done to understand how COVID-19 affects animals.
How to Protect Your Pets if You Have COVID-19
Knowing that your pets are not likely to catch COVID-19 from you or a loved one, there are precautions you can take to ensure you are not unwittingly spreading COVID-19 if you are infected. Because the CDC is still learning about how COVID-19 can affect animals, their suggestion is to treat pets as you would any other member of the household. They also make these recommendations:
- Have another member of the household care for the pets while you are sick or recovering.
- You should avoid contact with your pet. This includes petting, snuggling, kissing, sharing food, or sleeping together.
- If you have no one else who can care for your pet, you should wear a mask and wash your hands before and after interacting with them.
These precautions will help make sure your pets do not contract COVID-19 while you are recovering.
How to Stay Healthy With Animals
The best way to make sure you and your pets are safe from COVID-19 is to follow the precautions posted by our trusted medical professionals. The CDC tells us that the main way people get infected is by coming into contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person. The most important thing you can do is avoid coming into contact with someone who is infected.
Keep a distance of about six feet between you and others who do not live in your household even if you are wearing a mask. You should also wash your hands as often as possible.
Following these directions will keep you safe for the most part. But what about your pets? If you are going to be leaving the household with your pets, it’s important that they follow the same guidelines. You should wash your hands after handling pets. You should also wash their paws with a cleaning wipe meant for pets. While alcohol disinfectant can be safely used on your hands in the absence of washing, please do not use any chemical disinfectant on your pets. This can dry and irritate your pet’s paws.
You should also avoid taking your pets anywhere where you will be unable to socially distance. This means that dog parks or groomers are best avoided. While some states have reopened these services, the CDC recommends avoiding them if you can. While the CDC suggests avoiding these places as much as possible, it is also understandable that parks or groomers play an important role in some pets’ wellbeing. If you do take your pets out of the household, you should keep a very close eye on them and avoid contact with anyone else. Also, if you are feeling sick, do not take your dog out.
Most animals who contract COVID-19 show few symptoms and often recover quickly. It is best, however, to try and avoid the disease as much as possible. Following the CDC’s suggestions can help slow the spread of COVID-19 until a vaccine can be developed.