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Pets: COVID-19 and Your Pet

Apr 27, 2020 12:48PM ● By Brad Cahoon, DVM, CVA
Coronaviruses are enveloped viruses that generally cause respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases in humans as well as companion animals (pets). Companion animal coronaviruses are common pathogens and appear to be species-specific, which means that the risk of (companion animal) coronavirus moving from pets to humans is extremely low. SARS-CoV-2 is responsible for the current COVID-19 pandemic, and the coronavirus infections that occur in our pets typically do not cause severe disease and are not related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

It is important for pet owners to understand that the risk of contracting COVID-19 disease from their pets is exceptionally low. There is currently no scientific evidence that supports dogs and cats can transmit this infection to humans via their respiratory or gastrointestinal systems. There are concerns that pets can serve as fomites which means that the virus can contact and exist on their haircoats and skin, and then potentially transmit to humans when they are touched or handled.  How long the virus lives on the surface of an animal is currently unknown.  The risk of a fomite type of exposure is increased if the pet is in direct contact with a human who has become ill from COVID-19.  

The current pandemic situation is having far reaching impacts on all aspects of our lives. As we all course through this difficult and stressful time it is important to understand that our animal companions are aware of our stress as well as the changes in their daily routines.  Be aware that their lives are being impacted like ours and you may see the development of both systemic diseases and behavioral problems.

Veterinarians and our vet tech teams are essential workers, and we’re there for our clients and patients...just as we always have been.  We are not on the front lines of the battle like our human doctor counterparts, but we are determined and committed to keeping our clients and their animal family members healthy and safe. Do not hesitate to reach out and contact your veterinary team with any concerns or issues. 

Main photo is puppy Tenaya, courtesy of White Daisy Photography

 ABOVE: Gambit


It is imperative that pet owners understand they should not be euthanizing, abandoning, or removing their pets from their households. Rather, the recommendations are as follows:
  • Pets should remain with their owners who are self-quarantining.
  • For pet owners without symptoms, regular hand washing, as well as other good hygiene practices, should be maintained when interacting with pets. Regular cleaning of food bowls, water dishes, toys and bedding should be practiced as well.
  • Routine bathing of pets will help reduce the risk of a pet becoming a fomite and exposing their owners to COVID-19.
  • Owners who become ill with COVID-19 should separate themselves from their pet, just as they would a family member.
  • If owners have to be hospitalized, they should plan with family or friends to care for their pets.
  • If owners have any questions or concerns regarding COVID-19 and their animal companions, they should contact their veterinarian immediately.
Photo of Gambit courtesy of Nikki Ozawa


Brad Cahoon, DVM, CVA,
is the owner of Veterinary Healing Center
with locations in Folsom and El Dorado Hills. |916-933-6030