Speaking of Pets: Your pets, COVID-19 and you, part 1 of 2 | VailDaily.com
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Speaking of Pets: Your pets, COVID-19 and you, part 1 of 2

By Joan Merriam
Special to the Daily

First: I am NOT a veterinarian, epidemiologist, or virologist. This is printed in each one of my columns in the tagline, but I wanted to acknowledge this at the top of the article as well, to stress its importance.

I am an inveterate researcher who frequently asks for advice from these professionals.

With this coronavirus pandemic, many pet owners have questions. Can my pet get the virus? Can I get the virus from my pet? How can I protect my pet from this virus? As many questions as we have, there are just as many answers – many of them uninformed or downright false.

So, in the next two columns, I’ll be reporting on facts from legitimate experts like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and IDEXX Small Animal Health laboratories, which is the main provider of diagnostic and laboratory products to veterinary practices.

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Thus far, evidence around whether pets can contract COVID-19 suggests they can’t, but like everything else, it changes every day.
Special to the Daily

Can my dog or cat get COVID-19?

As of this writing, we simply don’t know for sure. A week ago, the answer would have been no, but the situation is extremely fluid, and new information comes out every day. Here’s what the AVMA says: “While 2 dogs (Hong Kong) and 1 cat (Belgium) have been reported to have been infected…infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets spread COVID-19 to other animals, including people.” The CDC echoes this, saying it does not have evidence that “companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19.”

How can I plan for my pet’s future care?

First, have enough food, treats, supplements, and any regular medications like heartworm preventative to last two to three weeks. 

Second, consider using online stores and services for pet supplies. That being said, if your local pet store is still open, go there first to support small businesses, which definitely need your help at this time.

Make sure you have stain and odor removers like Nature’s Miracle on hand just in case of accidents. 

And finally, set up a plan for a trusted friend or relative to care for your pet if you become too ill to do so.

In my next column, two weeks from now, I’ll address other common questions about pets and the COVID-19 virus. In the meantime, stay safe and well.

Joan Merriam lives in Northern California with her golden retriever Joey and Maine coon cat Indy. She emphasizes that she’s not a veterinarian or animal behaviorist — just an animal lover who’s been writing about pets since 2012. You can reach her at joan@joanmerriam.com.


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