As the threat of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, escalates, shutting down more non-essential businesses and forcing self-imposed quarantines, we understand your worries about caring for your pet in these troubling times. Rather than weeding through misinformation on social media, here are several websites with reputable facts that you can count on to keep updated and informed:
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
- World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)
Read on for more information regarding how COVID-19 can affect your furry friend, and the precautions you need to take.
What are coronaviruses?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses known to cause illness in people and animals. Most strains are species-specific, but a few are zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted between animals and people.
Where did COVID-19 come from, and how is it transmitted?
COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that has recently been identified in people. This new variation appears to have been seen first in bats, but has since mutated, and now infects people. According to the CDC, WHO, and other health officials, transmission currently appears to be strictly through person-to-person contact, and no evidence exists that pets can be a source of infection for people. Since COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, primary transmission is through coughing and sneezing, with the potential for secondary transmission through contact with a contaminated surface, and then touching the nose, mouth, or eyes.
Can COVID-19 infect pets?
Not only are pets not considered an infection source for people, but they also do not appear to become ill from COVID-19. Yes, a dog tested “weak positive” in Hong Kong, but the dog had no illness signs, and has since been released from quarantine. Further research and information is needed to see if the disease can truly infect pets.
Although pets do not appear susceptible to COVID-19, they can contract their own species-specific coronaviruses. Cats can develop an enteric form that causes mild diarrhea, but can also transform into feline infectious peritonitis, in rare cases. Dogs can be afflicted by an enteric form that also causes diarrhea, but in addition, can develop a respiratory form that has been linked to kennel cough cases.
How can I take care of my pet if I’m sick?
If you have COVID-19, the CDC recommends taking an abundance of caution and, ideally, having a housemate or friend care for your pet. Otherwise, wash your hands before and after handling your pet, and avoid kissing, snuggling, or hugging. If your pet develops respiratory issues after being in contact with an infected person, contact us immediately for assistance.
How is Belmont Animal Hospital protecting my pets and my family?
Regardless of pandemic conditions, we have always been devoted to providing the best care to your beloved pet. Yet, because of current COVID-19 concerns, we will be implementing a few policy changes to protect the health of our team, you and your family, and the community. Before heading to our hospital, contact us for the most up-to-date protocols. As of now, we are taking these precautions:
- Limiting patients — We will see mostly only sick or injured pets. If you have wellness visits or elective procedures scheduled, we may ask you to reschedule to a later date when we can better accommodate more patients, while still providing the best of care.
- Social distancing — Following the current CDC and WHO recommendations, we are practicing social distancing in our hospital, and limiting close contact between pet owners. To achieve these goals, we will receive patients in the following way:
- When you arrive at our hospital, call us at 615-383-1000.
- After discussing the necessary information required for your appointment, a veterinary technician will come to your vehicle and receive your pet. For your pet’s safety, we ask that your dog be leashed, or your cat is in a carrier.
- The vet tech will return with your pet to our hospital, where our veterinarian will perform any indicated procedures, diagnostics, and necessary treatments.
- At this point, you will receive a call to discuss important information regarding your pet’s health status.
- If indicated, we will collect payment over the phone.
- After all necessary procedures are complete, we will return your pet to your vehicle.
- If you are dropping your pet off, we will receive and discharge your pet in a similar manner.
- Online ordering — If you need medication or a prescription diet, we recommend visiting our online pharmacy to have your pet’s products delivered directly to you.
As new information regarding this pandemic becomes available, we may need to further change our operating policies. Always call in advance to ensure we are open, and team members are available to help you and your pet.