COVID-19 and Your Pets

Apr 01, 2020

During this trying time while we are all dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we realize that pet owners may have lots of questions about how this may impact their pets. We wanted to answer some frequently asked questions regarding the COVID-19 virus and our canine/feline companions.

Can I get COVID-19 from my pets?
No animals should be surrendered to shelters due to fear of them transmitting COVID-19 to humans. Unfortunately, misinformation has lead to an unnecessary influx of surrendered pets in recent weeks by frightened owners.
In a study performed by Idexx, the leading veterinary diagnostics company (and the same one we trust for our beloved patients’ bloodwork), thousands of cats and dogs were tested and none were shown to be positive for COVID-19. This supports the assessment that transmission is primarily person-to-person and that pets do not need to be tested. The current recommendation from the CDC is still to limit contact with your pets if you test positive for COVID-19 as a precaution.

Is Coronavirus new?
Coronaviruses are not new and are actually common to pets and people. However, just like there are different strains and types of other viruses, COVID-19 is a different type of coronavirus that we have not seen in humans before. This should not be confused with the more common Coronaviruses that affect people and pets quite often.

Is there a Coronavirus vaccine for cats/dogs?
Yes. But . . .
Coronavirus vaccines do exist for dogs and cats. However, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) do not recommend or consider these core vaccines. Core vaccines are those that protect from diseases that are endemic to a region, those with potential public health significance, required by law, virulent/highly infectious, and/or those posing a risk of severe disease. Coronavirus vaccines are not recommended in dogs because coronaviruses cause very mild (usually gastrointestinal) signs, usually affect dogs 6 weeks of age and under, and are generally self-limiting (go away on their own without treatment). In cats, coronavirus vaccines are also non-core and have not been recommended in the past. Coronaviruses in general also cause mild, self-limiting signs in most cats. A small subset of cats may develop a potentially fatal condition called Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) as a result of a mutation that occurs in the body in response to a coronavirus. The condition is still being studied and we do not yet fully understand what leads to this mutation. We do know that a majority of cats that become infected with coronavirus never develop FIP. Novel treatments and vaccinations against FIP are still under development, but at this time coronavirus vaccines are still non-core and not recommended in cats.
Again, none of these should be confused with the COVID-19 virus that is infecting humans.

Are COVID-19 restrictions affecting Hillcrest Animal Hospital’s ability to treat my pets when needed?
At this time, we are adhering to the CDC and local government’s recommendations regarding social distancing. We are still here to treat your pets! At this time, we are still able to perform Wellness Visits, vaccinations, Sick Exams, surgical procedures, emergencies, and other procedures we have normally provided for your pets. The only difference is that now we are providing these services through ‘Curbside Service’ and Telehealth. You can still play an active part in your pet’s visit, and you will still have the same essential communication with your pet’s doctor.

Please feel free to call our office with any questions regarding our new COVID-19 protocols.

Stay safe out there, everyone! We are here if you need us! <3
Dr. Tashina Elswick