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Avoid close contact with pets if you have COVID-19 symptoms

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 4:32 PDT, Fri May 15, 2020

Last Updated: 4:37 PDT, Fri May 15, 2020

The World Organisation for Animal Health says there is no evidence animals infected by humans are playing a role in the spread of COVID-19. 

A small number of laboratory studies suggest that cats, dogs, ferrets and hamsters can be infected with the virus, the organization says.

It is important to remember that pets are not the source of the virus but are getting the virus from people (human-to-animal transmission). Pet owners should abide by the following recommendations if they have COVID-19 symptoms or are self-isolating due to contact with a COVID-19 case

In these circumstances, avoid close contact with animals. Follow these precautions:

• Do not let them lick you, snuggle or kiss them, share food with them, let them sit on your lap or sleep in your bed

• Practice good hygiene

    • wash your hands often, especially before and after touching animals, their food and supplies
    • avoid coughing and sneezing on your animals
    • avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • if possible, have another member of your household care for your animals
    • if this is not possible, always practise good hygiene, as noted above
  • restrict your animal's contact with other people and animals outside the household until your illness is resolved or you are no longer required by the public health authority to quarantine (self-isolate), approximately 14 days
    • keep your cats indoors at all times
    • keep your dogs on a leash or within a private fenced area when you take them outside to go to the bathroom

Pets contribute to our overall happiness and well-being, especially in times of stress. If you have no symptoms of COVID-19 and are not self-isolating, taking walks with your dog or spending time with your pet can help keep both you and your pet healthy.

If you are caring for a pet that has been exposed to someone with COVID-19, it is recommended that precautions be taken for 14 days after the last possible exposure to the human case:

  • follow recommendations regarding contact and hygiene
  • clean and disinfect surfaces frequently that have high animal contact

If possible, the animal should remain in their own home in order to minimize contact with any new people, animals or environments. 

An animal may need to be moved temporarily to a new location if the owner lives alone and needs to be hospitalized, such as to a clinic, shelter or new household. In these cases, the animal should be confined to one area in order to minimize contact with other people and animals.

Individuals at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness should avoid being temporary caregivers to exposed animals.

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