Pets and COVID-19: FAQ

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that has not previously been identified. This virus is not the same coronavirus that can cause the common cold in humans, nor is it the same as canine coronavirus (CCoV) or feline coronavirus (FCoV).

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses characterized by crown-like spikes on their surface as seen under the microscope. There are many viruses in this family that cause various types of diseases, such as diarrhea and upper respiratory infections.

Can my pet contract and spread COVID-19?

Based on what we know now and what is known about other coronaviruses, there is no evidence that domestic dogs or cats can be a source of COVID-19 infection to humans or other animals.According to reports, a small number of pets belonging to people infected with COVID-19 have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, as did a tiger at New York’s Bronx Zoo. However, since there is limited evidence to support risk of the virus to pets, testing pets remains unwarranted. There is limited evidence that ferrets can become infected with the virus that causes human COVID-19, but no evidence that they can spread it to people. As a precaution, we recommend keeping ferrets and exotic pets in a safe enclosure and away from people infected with COVID-19.

There is still no evidence that pets can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to humans, and the risk of human-to-animal transmission remains very small.

Should I get rid of my pet(s) to be sure they don’t transmit the virus to my family?

No. Currently there is no evidence that domestic dogs and cats can be a source of infection to humans or other animals. Pet ownership can have health, emotional and social benefits, so following responsible pet keeping and hygienic practices are recommended to keep families and pets together and safe from disease.

Should my pet wear a mask?

No. There’s no scientific evidence that face masks protect pets from infectious diseases or air pollutants, and masks have the potential to be unnecessarily scary or uncomfortable for pets.

Should I get my pet tested for COVID-19?

At this time, testing pets for COVID-19 virus is unwarranted, as there is currently no indication that apparently healthy and unexposed pets should be tested for the virus.

Is there a COVID-19 vaccine for cats and dogs?

There is no COVID-19 vaccine for pets at this time. The vaccine for canine coronavirus is not effective against the virus that causes COVID-19.

What is known about other coronaviruses in cats and dogs?

While there’s still limited evidence to support risk of COVID-19 virus infection to dogs or cats, there are other coronaviruses that do impact pets, none of which are transmissible to people:

  • Cats: Feline enteric coronavirus (FCoV) causes a mild or asymptomatic infection in domestic cats, and most signs are gastrointestinal-related. This widespread virus is more common in areas of higher cat numbers (catteries, shelters).
  • Dogs: Canine coronavirus disease (CCoV) is a highly infectious intestinal infection in dogs that is typically the result of crowding and unsanitary conditions. Symptoms range from mild diarrhea to severe debilitating inflammation of the small intestine.

How can I protect my pet from exposure to the COVID-19 virus?

While there is limited evidence to support risk of COVID-19 virus to your pet, we recommend the following precautions regardless:

  • It is advised to keep pets of potentially infected or sick people away from unexposed people and animals. However, it is not necessary to remove pets from the home.
  • Avoid contact with pets and people outside of your household. It’s okay to take walks on a leash, but maintain social distancing.
  • Always wash hands after handling animals or their environment; supervise handwashing for children less than five years of age.
  • Help ensure your pets remain healthy with regular preventive care.
  • Call your veterinarian at the first sign of illness in your pet.

I am well, my pet is well—how can I maintain a normal routine?

While respecting social distancing as required, you can continue to walk your dog. Ensure both you and your dog remain at least 6 feet away from others. You should avoid dog parks.

While you spend more time at home, try to dedicate more time to playing with your dog or cat. It’s a great time to bond, teach them new tricks or focus on behavior training.

What should I do to prepare for my pet’s care, just in case I do get sick?

Here are some key actions you can take to prepare and help ensure the safety and care of your pets:

  • Identify a trusted person to care for your pet if you become ill or are hospitalized.
  • Make sure your pets all have proper identification. Ensure microchip information is up to date in case you and your pet are separated.
  • Keep a crate, food and extra supplies on hand.
  • Document all medications with dosages and administering instructions.
  • Keep at least one month of food and medications on hand.

I am sick or have been exposed—what should I do about my pet’s healthcare needs?

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been focused on providing continued care for pets while at the same time protecting the safety of our associates and clients alike. We have put several protection measures and alternative service options in place to protect our clients and employees, while continuing to offer care to our patients.

First, please call us with any questions about your pet’s wellness care or if your pet is sick. We will discuss the best options for your pet’s care with you.

  • If your pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian, please ask a family member or friend who is not sick and has not been exposed to come to the hospital with your pet.
  • If your pet needs food, a prescription refill, flea and tick protection or other medications, you visit
  • If you are sick and need a safe and loving place for your pet while you recuperate, please call us for boarding availability.

If your pet shows any signs of illness, such as coughing, sneezing or lethargy, call your veterinarian immediately, and keep them indoors and away from other pets and people as a precaution. Signs of illness in dogs and cats are usually associated with various viral and bacterial infections (kennel cough, canine flu, etc.) that are neither coronaviruses nor transmissible to people.

We're here for you and your pet. Here are the latest updates from VCA Canada

Please click below to see the latest updates on the COVID-19 situation from VCA Canada. Rest assured, we're here for you. If you have any concerns, please call your hospital. 
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