A quick reference guide to everything you need to know about the novel coronavirus, your pets, and access to veterinary care during this international emergency.

Pets and Coronavirus

Can my pet contract coronavirus?

While both dogs and cats are susceptible to some strains of coronavirus, at this time we do not have evidence that our dogs can contract or spread the COVID-19 strain. There have been, however, isolated reports of cats contracting the virus from humans, but none to suggest they can spread it back to humans.

There may be some confusion about this, as our pets can contract other strains of coronavirus. Some of these have been known to be passed between humans and animals.

Vaccines for intestinal coronavirus strains in dogs and cats do exist, but no veterinary vaccines are available for protection against COVID-19 or other respiratory strains of coronavirus found in pets.

How can I protect my pet from COVID-19?

If you are not ill, you may continue to interact with your pet as you normally would, but should continue to practice good personal hygiene, including washing your hands before and after interacting with your pet.

To help protect your furry family, there are a few additional steps you can take:

  • continue to include your pets in your emergency preparedness planning, including a two-week supply of food and medications
  • make sure you have a pet first aid kit available
  • wash hands often and try to avoid contact with those who are sick
  • isolate pets from other animals if they have been exposed to a sick animal
  • isolate pets from other pets in the household if they have symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, vomiting, diarrhea or lethargy
  • always follow your veterinarian's recommendations for preventive care (things like heartworm and flea/tick control, vaccinations, nutrition, and disease management)
  • contact whiskerDocs via phone, chat, or email, 24/7, if you're unsure whether your pet needs medical treatment

What if I'm COVID-19 positive?

If you or someone in your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19, for extra safety, wear a mask and use gloves around your pet. To be extra cautious, you could also ask someone else to help with day to day care such as feeding, changing water bowls, walking dogs or cleaning litterboxes for cats.

To be clear, these steps are just a precaution. We have no evidence at this time that indicates our dogs can become infected with or spread this strain of coronavirus, even if someone in your home has been diagnosed. Cats and ferrets, however, may be able to be infected by sick humans.

Can cats contract COVID-19?

Recent reports have suggested that cats and ferrets are at risk for contracting the coronavirus. There have been confirmed cases of domestic cats in Belgium and several lions and tigers from a zoo in the United States testing positive. Scientists in other countries have also studied the possibility of infection and transmission, although the results of these studies have not yet been peer-reviewed.

What we understand to be true at this time is that cats can contract the novel coronavirus from humans, but cannot spread coronavirus back to humans. Additionally, we believe that cats sickened with COVID-19 can pass the virus on to other cats.

Cat owners should take care to separate sick cats from other cats in their household. If the someone in the household is positive or suspected positive for COVID-19, that individual should isolate themselves from the cat if at all possible, or follow standard guidelines for protective gear to reduce the chance of transmitting COVID-19 to their feline friends.

I've heard that dogs have tested positive, too

While there have been reports of two dogs in Hong Kong, these cases have not been peer reviewed or confirmed. Additionally, multiple health organizations, infectious disease experts, and scientists have concluded that there is no evidence that our companion animals can transmit the virus to other animals or people.

More detailed information about these cases is available on the AVMA website.

Does my dog need to practice social distancing?

While walking your canine friends, it is wise to have them practice social distancing as well. It's best to avoid having strangers pet your dog. If someone does pet your dog, give him/her a quick wash with warm water (with or without a couple drops of Dawn dish soap in it) or dog cleansing wipes when you return home. This is out of an abundance of caution. While there is no evidence to suggest that the virus can live on a dog's fur, nor that your dog will contract it, these measures ensure safety for your human and feline family members.

Access to Veterinary Care During Coronavirus Pandemic

What do I do if my pet is sick?

whiskerDocs is presently offering 25% off all interactions and memberships to help support you and your furry family members during this time. Our mission is to help you determine if a visit is necessary, help you locate a veterinarian if needed, and possibly even provide ways for you to stabilize your pet during a quarantine.

To redeem your offer, enter the code COV19 at checkout on any product on our plans page.

Can whiskerDocs provide treatment for my sick pet?

whiskerDocs is a telehealth solution, meaning that we are able to provide veterinary guidance and education. That said, in response to the pandemic, many state veterinary boards are loosening their regulations regarding what we are allowed to do without having examined your pet.

These regulations are changing daily, and we are keeping track of where we are legally allowed to intervene and provide treatment. For a state-by-state review of current veterinary practice laws, please see the AAVSB website.

How can I support telemedicine in pets?

If your state currently does not allow for telemedicine in it's veterinary practice acts (see this site), please write to your governor urging them to include the remote establishment of a "veterinary-client-patient-relationship (VCPR)" to allow whiskerDocs the ability to help your pet during this difficult time, from the safety of your own home.

Will I be able to visit my veterinarian if needed?

Most states are considering veterinary practices to be essential services during the pandemic. This means that most hospitals will remain open in some capacity.

Some states, however, are limiting office hours or have reduced services to only those provided by emergency (or 24-hour) practices. Please contact your primary veterinarian for more information on how they are responding to their state's regulations.

If you do not yet have a primary veterinarian and need help locating one, please contact us or visit Vet Locator.

Should I be concerned about going to the vet?

Due to a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), whiskerDocs is encouraging pet parents to speak with a veterinarian or technician by phone or chat prior to making a veterinary appointment to help determine if it is truly necessary at this time. Doing so will not only reduce the use of this critical equipment, but help to ensure that you are your furry friends are not unnecessarily exposed to close contact with veterinary staff.

To speak with whiskerDocs, enter the code COV19 at checkout to receive 25% off any service on our plans page.

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