What Do Pet Owners Need To Know About COVID-19? We Asked a Veterinarian


pets coronavirus

Are you wondering whether your pet can contract the coronavirus or if you can still bring your dog into the vet for a nail trim amid the Shelter-in-Place order? We spoke with a veterinarian to find out what pet owners need to know right now.

Which Pets Can Get COVID-19?

Gary Richter, M.S., D.V.M., C.V.C., C.V.A. explained that while cats can get the coronavirus, it’s very rare. Some dogs whose owners were infected have tested positive for antigens, but they haven’t displayed any signs of illness. Importantly, there have not been any cases of companion animals transmitting COVID-19 to their humans.

This being said, Dr. Richter noted that the virus could potentially travel on a pet’s fur. So if an infected person touched a dog, another person could catch COVID-19 from petting that dog. He recommended that no one outside of the pet owner’s quarantine circle (those living with the person) have contact with the pet. If someone does touch your dog while you are on a walk, clean the collar and leash and consider giving your pup a bath.

Are Veterinarians Open?

Currently, almost all veterinarian offices are open, but most are not allowing pet owners to enter the facilities. Although vet offices vary in their exact policies, most will come out to the parking lot to bring your animal in and then conduct the appointment over the phone or in a Zoom conference. Some clinics will take only emergency appointments, while others are continuing to offer basic checkups.

Should I Adopt a Dog Right Now?

Fostering and adopting animals, especially dogs, has become popular during the pandemic. Staying home means people have the time to devote to animals. You are also allowed to go outside to walk your dog, so that’s a major plus right now.

Dr. Richter said that short-term fostering is a wonderful thing to do right now, but he cautioned prospective adopters to consider whether pet ownership would still be doable when their lives go back to normal. It’s great if you have the time now but think long-term. If you will eventually have to return to a job that keeps you away from home for long hours, getting a new pet that needs lots of attention might not be a wise choice.


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