Pets and COVID

Your Pets and COVID-19

The United States is a pet-owning society. Two-thirds of American homes include a pet. There are 393.3 million pets living in the United States. This means that, on average, each household has 4.63 pets! Ninety five percent of pet owners consider their pets to be family members and Americans spend over $1 billion each year on pet insurance.

With COVID, lockdowns, and social isolation, pet ownership has increased, and our pets have become even more important in our lives.

U.S. Households With Pets (in millions)

Pets in US households

A small number of pets have been infected with the COVID-19 virus. The virus can be spread from people to animals, mostly during close contact. The CDC has developed guidelines for pet owners who have tested positive for COVID or are worried that their pets may have become infected with the virus.

The risk of pets spreading the virus to humans appears to be low. There is no evidence that the virus can spread to people from the fur, hair, or skin of pets. To protect pets from the virus:

  • Pet owners and every eligible person in the household should get vaccinated.
  • People with COVID-19 should not have contact with pets.
  • Pet owners should not allow pets to have contact with unvaccinated people outside the household, if possible.

If you are sick you should avoid contact with your pets. If you believe that your pet is sick you should call your veterinarian. Most infections will have mild symptoms and your pet will be treated at home. Here are common symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Eye Discharge
  • Shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Sneezing

You should protect yourself when you are around your pets – wash your hands after handling animals and their food, supplies, or waste.

Routine testing of pets suspected of COVID is not currently recommended. Most infections have been mild, but there have been a small number of deaths in animals with COVID. There are currently no commercial vaccines available for animals, although Russia has developed the first COVID-19 vaccine for animals.

If your pet has worsening symptoms you may need to take them to the veterinarian’s office. They may test your pet for COVID-19 and rule out other common illnesses with similar symptoms. Treatment for severe symptoms is mostly symptomatic. Fortunately, infection in pets appears to be mostly mild.

For most people their pets have been a godsend during the pandemic. You can be reassured that most infections in your pets will be rare and mild. Should your pet become infected you will have a very low risk of infection.

As always, we are here for you. Please email or call if you want to set up a Zoom videoconference meeting or talk by phone.

References

https://spots.com/pet-ownership-statistics

https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/covid-19/pets.html

Ralph Broadwater, M.D., CFP®

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