Despite the length of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may still have some questions about how the virus can affect you and your pet. Our Columbia Pike Animal Hospital team has the answers—check them out.

Question: Aren’t pets affected by coronaviruses?

Answer: Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses known for causing illness in a variety of species, which include your cat, dog, and human family. So, while pets can be affected by coronaviruses, most strains are species-specific. Cats and dogs both have enteric coronavirus strains, and dogs can also develop a respiratory strain. However, a few strains are zoonotic, and can be transmitted from animals to people. With the SARS-CoV-2 strain that causes COVID-19, pets do not appear to be affected much, if at all. Cats and ferrets seem the most susceptible to illness, but dogs generally remain healthy after exposure.

Q: Can my pet become ill with COVID-19?

A: According to a University of California, Davis study, wildlife and endangered species are more likely to become ill from the SARS-CoV-2 virus than cats or dogs. Based on their genomic structure, gorillas, chimps, and other monkey species closely related to people are most at risk, while white-tailed deer, Chinese hamsters, bottlenose dolphins, and giant anteaters comprise the second highest risk category. Cats have a medium-level risk, while dogs are categorized as low risk. So, your pet’s risk for becoming ill is slight, although a small chance of developing a SARS-CoV-2 infection does exist.

Q: Can my pet transmit COVID-19 to a person?

A: Your pet cannot serve as a direct infection source for people or other pets, but they can carry the SARS-CoV-2 virus on their fur, collar, leash, or other belongings. The primary transmission method is direct person-to-person contact, but indirect transmission can also occur through contact with contaminated objects and surfaces. Porous materials, such as fur, collars, and leashes, can trap the virus deep in the fibers, making transmission more difficult. Smooth surfaces, like metal, glass, and plastic, are more likely to hold the virus directly on the surface, allowing for easier transmission.

Q: How can I safely take care of my pet if I’m sick?

A: If you’ve been diagnosed with a COVID-19 infection, you should ideally find someone else to care for your pet. While their infection risk is minimal, pets can carry the virus on their fur and become ill themselves, so you should quarantine yourself from your pet and your human family. If no one else can care for your pet, avoid snuggling, kissing, or sharing food with them, wash your hands thoroughly before and after caring for them, and wear your mask for added precaution.

Q: How is Columbia Pike Animal Hospital ensuring the health and safety of my pet, myself, and their team?

A: Unfortunately, COVID-19 is still a real community threat. Our goal is to limit disease transmission and focus on the health of every pet and person. To achieve our goal, we’ve implemented several safety protocols, including:

  • Limited access — To maintain social distancing guidelines, we are limiting the number of people we allow into our hospital. We’ve also divided into two teams to ensure only half our staff is exposed to a sick person, rather than having to shut down the entire hospital. We suggest that you first contact us, because we can often help over the phone, such as with prescription refills and deliveries, triage, and advice.
  • Deep cleaning — Our entire hospital is undergoing more rigorous cleaning protocols. Each and every doorknob, light switch, and countertop is thoroughly disinfected after being touched by clients or staff. 
  • Team member health checks — We keep a close eye on our team’s health to ensure they don’t develop a fever or respiratory illness, or feel sick in any way. We encourage team members who fall ill to stay home and be tested before they return to work.
  • Curbside service — To minimize exposure, we are practicing curbside service. Our technicians will come out to your car, take your pet inside for a physical exam by our veterinarians, and then discuss their diagnosis and treatment with you over the phone. 

We also recommend: 

  • Using our online pharmacy — Our online pharmacy is a fantastic resource during these times. Simply order your pet’s medication, receive approval, and the shipment will be delivered straight to your door, all without a phone call or visit to our hospital.
  • Staying home if you feel ill or feverish — If you’ve had a fever in the last 72 hours, or feel ill in any way, please stay home. Reschedule your pet’s non-urgent appointment, or find someone else to bring in your pet to avoid disease transmission.

As this pandemic changes, our protocols will also change. Keep an eye on our Facebook page to watch for updates, such as closures for a thorough, deep cleaning, or contact our team for more information. Columbia Pike Animal Hospital is always here for you and your pet, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.