Mar 31, 2020 12:00 AM

Author: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Worries have emerged about whether a pet can become infected and spread coronavirus, or COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a small number of pets (cats and dogs) have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. Some pets did not show any signs of the illness, but pets that did get sick had mild disease that could be taken care of at home. None of the pets have died. Based on limited available information, the CDC says the risk of pets spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. 

If Your Pet Gets Sick

  • Keep your pet at home, except to get medical care.
    • Talk with your veterinarian regularly. Call before you take your pet to the veterinary clinic. Be sure to alert your veterinarian if your pet has trouble breathing, or if you think it is an emergency.
    • While most pets appear to show only mild symptoms or no symptoms, the CDC is still learning about how pets are affected by the virus. Even if your pet appears to be feeling better, avoid the following activities until your veterinarian determines that it is safe for your pet to do so or your pet has met the guidance to end their isolation:
      • Visits to veterinary hospitals, without calling the veterinarian first
      • Visits to human healthcare facilities or schools
      • Visits to parks (including dog parks), markets, or other gatherings such as festivals
      • Visits to the groomer, including mobile grooming salons
      • Visits to pet daycares or boarding facilities
      • Other outings such as playdates, hikes, or visiting other homes, with or without pets
      • Using dog walkers or pet-sitters that live outside your home

Seperate Your Pet 

  • Avoid contact with the pet as much as possible, including, petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding.
  • If possible, provide a separate litterbox or bathroom area from other pets.

DOGS: If you have a private backyard where your dog can go to the bathroom, do not take them for walks. If you must walk your dog, limit it to bathroom breaks only, stay close to your home, and keep your pet at least 6 feet away from other pets and people. Do not let other people touch or interact with your dog.

CATS: Cats should be kept inside. Do not allow cats that have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 to roam outside.

CLEANING UP: There is no evidence to suggest that waste from infected pets needs any additional disinfection. Wear gloves when cleaning up after your pet, and place fecal material or litterbox waste in a sealed bag before disposing. Always wash your hands with soap and water immediately after cleaning up after your pet.

  • Provide bedding, bowls or containers, treats, and toys that are separate from those used by other people or animals in the household.
    • Disinfect bowls, toys, and other animal care items with an EPA-registered disinfectant and rinse thoroughly with clean water afterwards.
    • Soft items like towels, blankets, and other bedding, can be safely laundered and reused. Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an ill animal can be washed with other items.

Monitor Your Pet's Symptoms

It is important to keep track of your pet’s symptoms during home isolation. If you think your pet has new symptoms or is getting worse, call your veterinarian.

Pets sick with COVID-19 may have:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Lethargy (unusual laziness or sluggish)
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Eye discharge
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea


Protect Yourself

  • Follow similar recommended precautions as for people caring for an infected person at home.
  • If you are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, another household member should care for the pet, if possible.
  • People should wear a cloth face covering and gloves  in the same room or area as the sick pet.
    • Animals should not wear a cloth face covering or mask. 
  • Use gloves when handling the pet’s dishes, toys, or bedding and when picking up feces. Throw out gloves and place waste material or litterbox waste in a sealed bag before throwing away in a trashcan lined with a trash bag. Always wash your hands with soap and water immediately after cleaning up after your pet.
  • Clean your hands regularly throughout the day.
    • Wash hands: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each  Make sure everyone in the home does the same, especially after touching the sick pet or handling their dishes, toys, or bedding.
    • Hand sanitizer: If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.  Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
    • Do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and then disinfect:
    • Follow cleaning and disinfecting recommendations found on CDC’s Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home
    • Do not wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or other products not intended or approved for use on animals. There is no evidence that viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread to people or other animals from the skin, fur, or hair of pets.  Using chemical disinfectants on your pet could make them very sick or kill them.

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