Updated: Sep 22, 2020
I write this article out of frustration and exhaustion as I am tired of hearing about COVID-19, as I am sure you all are. However, it has become more pressing that we address what to do if your animal has symptoms. This article isn't trying to cause any panic, but create another resource available. The amount of reported sick animals is still relatively low and usually related to close contact with people that have COVID-19 (i.e., the family dog in a household that has contracted COVID). Of the animals that have tested positive, the CDC reports that their fatality rate is zero. The risk of spreading from dogs to humans is also low.
From the CDC Website:
A small number of pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, have been reported external icon to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19.
Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.
It appears that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals in some situations.
Treat pets as you would other human family members – do not let pets interact with people outside the household.
If a person inside the household becomes sick, isolate that person from everyone else, including pets.
This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.
Here are some signs and symptoms of COVID in animals:
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Lethargy (unusual laziness or sluggish)
If your animal exhibits these symptoms, call the veterinarian first. Some places are doing video examinations and limiting exposure to other animals and people. If you are not sick with COVID, please treat the animal as an ill family member living with you by having a quarantine space or "sick room." Ideas for these spaces could be a bedroom or laundry room. Let the animal use the restroom in a private backyard. If this is not accessible to you, wear PPE and take them on a leash for a short walk at least 6 feet away from people. If you have more than one pet, ensure a separate area, different toys/bowels/ bedding, etc. Wash all laundry items/toys when symptoms resolve. If you are negative for COVID but considered high risk, see if another person is available to help care for your animal while they have symptoms. Please do not place any type of mask on the dog as it is dangerous for them. If they develop worsening respiratory symptoms or become unresponsive, contact the emergency veterinarian right away.
Other tips for how to care for them:
Wash your hands frequently
Use PPE when handling toys, food, or feces
Clean and disinfect the areas
This will be the most challenging rule, but no kisses, petting, or cuddles! (Remember it is generally only 14 days of isolation).
Please do not abandon your animal during these difficult times.
Please do not place any chemicals on your dog. This is harmful to their coat, and they could ingest the chemical, which could affect their respiratory system and cause toxicity. If you suspect that your animal has ingested a chemical, contact the emergency vet right away.
What should you avoid?
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
When can you stop isolation and resume cuddling your beloved pet? When they have been asymptomatic for at least 72 hours, and it has been 14 days from their positive test, or they tested negative during their follow up. Please have clearance from the vet or public health official before discontinuing any isolation guidelines.
Here are some recommendations for an animal that is not feeling well:
Boil skinless and boneless chicken with rice. This is also known as a bland diet. To increase water consumption, you could add chicken broth to increase the nutrients. Make sure the broth doesn't sit too long because it can attract bacteria growth. We have used this method to hydrate Athena when she wasn't feeling well.
With more emphasis than usual,