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AARP AARP States Texas Health & Wellbeing

You, your pets and COVID-19

The toll COVID-19 has on humans has been widely reported, but what about your pets. Can they catch this virus? Dr. Karen Wu, a Zoonosis Veterinarian at the Veterinary Public Health Division and Harris County Animal Shelter said that the CDC has not reported any cases of pets, livestock, or wildlife that have been sick with COVID-19, but a type of the virus does exist in animals.

“Pets do have other types of coronavirus that can make them sick like K-9 and feline coronaviruses, however, these coronaviruses do not infect people,” Dr. Wu said.

Dr. Wu said hygiene is crucial when we are around our furry companions. She recommends that you should wash your hands before and after interacting with your pets to avoid any possible spread of bacteria that could cause illness. She added there is no reason to think that any animals might be the source of the infection.

Listen to our AARP Podcast: Keeping you, your pets safe during COVID-19

“We are most concerned about person-to-person spread at this time. This also includes imported animals and animal products, which are not at risk for spreading the COVID-19 and the USDA is a great resource for that information,” said Dr. Wu.

No matter what circumstances may be occurring; Dr. Wu said you should always have an emergency plan for your pets if you do get sick. One option, she said, is to find another family member who is willing and able to take care of your animal.

“For your animal, put together an emergency kit with your pet’s identification (such as their microchip information), their medical history (which includes their shot records with rabies tags), their medication and supplies such as collars, leashes, bowls, pet food, cat litter, and cleaning supplies. Anything anyone would need to take care of your animal, ” said Dr. Wu.

Since there is little information known about COVID-19 and animals, be extra careful around your pets if you know you have the virus.

“Have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding and playing with your pets. If you do not have anyone to look after your pet, wear a face mask and do not share food, kiss or hug your pets,” Dr. Wu said.

In these struggling times with the stay-at-home orders, now is a great time where you can spend time bonding with your pets.

“Focus on training that you have never done before and exercise with your pets. Also, contact your local animal shelters on how you can assist them in this time of need,” said Dr. Wu.

dogs going for a walk
owner and two dogs going for a walk

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