Wow, the world is different today, isn’t it? In this confusing and scary time, I hope to be able to decrease some of the anxiety and confusion around coronavirus and our pets. As you have probably noticed, the information on Covid-19 seems to change not daily, but hourly. So, the information I’ve presented here may also change, but currently, this is the best information we have been able to gather from reputable and knowledgeable sources. If things do change, I will release more information as I receive it, so stay tuned.
What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause cold-like illnesses in people, while others can cause illness in specific animals, such as cattle, camels, and bats. Some coronaviruses, including canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals and do not infect humans.
The current outbreak is a novel coronavirus which simply means, it’s new. This virus is widely believed to have originated in a seafood market in the Hunan province of China. This variety of coronavirus is highly contagious, and it is responsible for a serious illness in humans that has been named ‘COVID-19’.
Can you get coronavirus (COVID-19) from your pets?
Probably the main question on the minds of pet owners is whether they can get COVID-19 from their pets. At this time (though monitoring is ongoing) there has been no evidence of spread from pets to people or from people to pets. However, the virus has been found in the nasal passages and in the mouths of a few dogs. The first known case is a 17-year-old Pomeranian owned by a COVID-19 patient in China. Multiple tests have shown a “weak positive” response. There have been no reports of symptoms in this pet and the pet eventually tested negative. A few other dogs have also tested positive from oral or nasal swabs and they have also remained symptom free. Though there is no definitive evidence, it is suspected that it is more likely that people have exposed pets to the virus rather than the other way around. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has reported the following:
Currently, there is no evidence that pets can become sick. Infectious disease experts, as well as the CDC, OIE, and WHO indicate there is no evidence to suggest that pet dogs or cats can be a source of infection with SARS-CoV-2, including spreading COVID-19 to people. More investigation is underway and as we learn more, we will update you.
They further state that if you or a family member become infected with Coronavirus it is recommended to self-quarantine from your pet just as you would from other family members.
In the United States, there is no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets, livestock, or wildlife, might be a source of COVID-19 infection at this time. However, because all animals can carry germs that can make people sick, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals.
- Wash your hands after handling animals, their food, waste, or supplies.
- Practice good pet hygiene and clean up after pets properly.
- Take pets to the veterinarian regularly and talk to your veterinarian if you have questions about your pet’s health.
For more information, visit CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website.
We at University Animal Medical & Dental Clinic want you to know that your health is just as important to us as your pet’s health. To that end, we intend to stay open as long as we are allowed to continue to care for your fur babies. As always, we sanitize the clinic several times a day for all of our protection, and we have increased the frequency of our cleaning and sanitizing activities. We continue to see appointments, but we have spaced them out to try to avoid contact between clients. In addition, we are offering “curb service”. This means that when you arrive at your appointment time, you can call to let us know you are here. Then, someone will come to your vehicle to take your pet inside for examination and treatment – then return them to you in your car. This service limits person-to-person contact and the number of people who flow through our waiting room, so we can do our part to reduce possibility of spreading the virus.
We are expressly forbidden to preform telemedicine except as outlined in this bulletin from the NCVMB received today:
IMPORTANT UPDATES: Covid-19 and the Veterinary-Client-Patient-Relationship For a veterinarian to practice medicine in the State of North Carolina they need to first establish a veterinary-client-patient-relationship (VCPR). A VCPR is established only when a veterinarian examines an animal in person, and is maintained by regular veterinary visits as needed to monitor an animal’s health. If a VCPR is established but a veterinarian does not regularly see the animal afterward, the VCPR is no longer valid and it would be illegal and unethical for a veterinarian to dispense or prescribe medications or recommend treatment without recently examining the patient. A valid VCPR cannot be established online (virtually), via email, or over the phone. However, once a VCPR is established, it may be able to be maintained between medically necessary examinations via telephone or other methods; but it’s up to the veterinarian’s discretion to determine if this is appropriate and in the best interests of an animals’ health.
As always, we are here to help in any way we can so please call with any questions. Social distancing may keep us from shaking hands and hugging, but we want you to know we still love you and your pets, and we can and do send a virtual hug from all of us to all of you.
Thank you and stay safe out there,
Dr. Jimmie Sain
Founder – University Animal Medical & Dental Clinic