As 2020 comes to an end, we wish COVID-19 would also run its course. But, the novel coronavirus pandemic is still holding sway around the world, and our Cote Animal Hospital team is doing our best to minimize potential disease transmission and help our San Diego community return to normal. With so much confusion about this virus and its effect on pets and people, we’d like to answer some common questions about the virus SARS-CoV-2 and how it relates to your pet. 

Question: How many animals have tested positive for COVID-19?

Answer: Compared with the number of positive human cases, few animals have tested positive for COVID-19. While many studies are underway, and much more testing is needed to draw definitive conclusions, cats appear to be more susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, and can easily pass the virus between members of the same species. Tigers and lions have tested positive for the virus after being around sick zookeepers, while a handful of domestic cats and dogs who lived with infected people—25 confirmed positive cases globally—have been diagnosed with COVID-19. At this time, generalized COVID-19 testing is not recommended for your pet, unless they begin showing respiratory illness. 

Q: Can my pet get COVID-19?

A: Many pet owners are understandably worried about the potential of SARS-CoV-2 transmission to their pets. Although your pet’s chance of developing an infection is almost nonexistent, it can happen. If your cat or dog has been around someone who has been ill, you may see a combination of the following COVID-19 signs in pets:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Lethargy
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Eye discharge
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Respiratory illness is common in pets, and these signs may not mean your cat or dog is infected with SARS-CoV-2. However, since this virus is a serious threat to human health, we are taking every precaution with pets who have respiratory-related signs.

Q: Can my pet pass the SARS-CoV-2 virus to me?

A: Based on current reports and research, a pet cannot pass the novel coronavirus to a person. However, take proper precautions if your pet becomes ill, to prevent possible infection, as more research is needed to determine how this virus fully affects people and pets. 

Q: How should I care for my pet if I’m sick?

A: If you become ill with COVID-19, the best option is having a healthy household member care for your pet. If that is not possible, protect your pet as you would a person by implementing the following hygiene practices:

  • Wash your hands before and after handling your pet
  • Avoid contact with your pet (e.g., cuddling, hugging, kissing, sharing food)
  • Wear a mask around your pet, but do not make them wear one

Q: What should I do if my pet becomes sick after being around an ill person?

A: Although unlikely, your pet may become ill after being in contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19. If you notice respiratory illness in your pet, contact Cote Animal Hospital, ensuring you mention the potential for SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Based on your pet’s potential, we will create the best protocol for examining and treating them while keeping your family and our team safe. 

Q: How is Cote Animal Hospital keeping my pet and my family safe from COVID-19?

A: As COVID-19 is still a threat around the world, our team is doing our part to minimize the infection spread and keep our community safe. As such, we ask that you do not enter our hospital if any of the following conditions apply:

  • If you have a fever or cough, or have been exposed to someone who does
  • If you have traveled by air in the past two weeks
  • If you have been out of the country or on a cruise ship in the past two weeks
  • If you have been exposed to someone who is symptomatic
  • If you have traveled to a high-infection area of the U.S.

If you have been ill, or exposed to a person diagnosed with COVID-19, ask a healthy family member or friend to bring your pet.

If your pet needs medical care during these difficult times, don’t hesitate to contact your Cote Animal Hospital team. We’re always here for you and your furry companion.