Are you overwhelmed with conflicting information about COVID-19, and how it affects your entire family? Not to worry—the Walnut Creek Animal Hospital team has your back when it comes to current, accurate information on COVID-19, and its risk factor for your pet. To learn more about this global pandemic, and its potential effect on pet health, read our answers to the following common questions.
Question: What is COVID-19?
Answer: COVID-19 is a newly discovered coronavirus strain that is quickly becoming a worldwide issue. While coronaviruses are nothing new, and have been known to cause mild illness in many species, including cats and dogs, COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on human health, especially in the immune-compromised population. With no previous antibody development or current vaccine in production, people are struggling to fight off this disease, but are becoming ill with respiratory issues.
Q: Since pets can get coronaviruses, can my pet get COVID-19?
A: Fortunately, most coronavirus strains are species-specific. While some strains are zoonotic, and can be transmitted by animals to people and vice versa, COVID-19 cannot. If your pet becomes infected with a coronavirus strain, she is more likely to develop an intestinal form that causes mild diarrhea. Dogs may also become infected with a respiratory form that has been linked to some kennel cough cases. In cats, the intestinal form can mutate, and lead to likely fatal feline infectious peritonitis. As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, and we learn more about this disease, this information may change, but for now, rest assured that there is no evidence that pets can become ill from COVID-19.
Q: Should my pet be tested for COVID-19?
A: You may have heard about the thousands of canine and feline samples evaluated by a major veterinary diagnostic laboratory to validate a pet COVID-19 test, but not a single positive result was found. Currently, only two dogs have tested positive for COVID-19, but neither showed illness signs, despite living with infected people. Based on how COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person, and the fact that there is no evidence pets can become ill with this disease, leading health officials have declared there is no need to test pets.
Q: Can I still care for my pet if I have COVID-19?
A: Despite statements from major health organizations that pets have not shown COVID-19 illness, they still recommend taking safety measures out of an abundance of caution. If you are ill, you should ideally find someone else to care for your pet. If that is not an option, wash your hands before and after touching your pet, and refrain from kissing, hugging, or snuggling your furry pal.
Q: What should I do if my pet becomes ill?
A: If your pet becomes ill at any point, we can still provide the highest of standards of care for your beloved companion. Before heading to our hospital, however, contact us for our most current policies, as our protocols may have changed, to keep you and your pet safe. Inform us of your pet’s condition, respiratory illness signs she is exhibiting, and any potential contact with a sick person. If your dog is coughing, she is more likely coughing from a disease other than COVID-19, such as kennel cough, congestive heart failure, or a collapsing trachea.
Q: My pet is running out of medication and prescription food. Can I stop by and pick up refills?
A: While we are still available to care for your pet, we ask that you order medications and other prescriptions online through our pharmacy. These items will be shipped directly to your home, to avoid contact and potential disease transmission. If you need your pet’s prescriptions urgently, contact us before heading to our hospital, so we can have the items ready for you.
Q: I’m lost with so many different opinions on COVID-19. Whom can I trust for accurate information?
A: A wide variety of information is flooding social media feeds, but much of it is speculation, based on personal opinion. Avoid possibly inaccurate statements, and rely instead on reputable health organizations, such as:
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
- World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)
Q: What protocols is Walnut Creek Vet Hospital enacting to keep my pet safe?
A: Our top priority has always been your pet’s health and safety. To ensure our team, your family, and the entire community remains safe, we are implementing protocols designed to limit interaction, and reduce the risk of disease transmission. The following protocols will be in place until recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and AVMA are lifted:
- We request that all clients and team members remain home if they are showing illness signs related to COVID-19.
- We ask that pet owners refrain from entering our facility, unless instructed by a team member. Contact our office on arrival, for further instructions.
- We ask that you complete the necessary exam paperwork prior to your pet’s appointment. We request that all clients complete this form, as there are new questions for recheck patients.
- We ask that you remain on-site during your pet’s appointment, as our veterinarian will contact you with physical exam findings, diagnostic testing results, and treatment plans.
As this situation is rapidly evolving, our policies may need to change, to ensure the greatest safety for everyone. With any questions about COVID-19, your pet’s health, or your upcoming appointment, contact us.