With each day of the COVID-19 pandemic, not only is there an intense battle against the coronavirus itself, but there is also an ongoing struggle to refute the avalanche of virus-related misinformation appearing on websites and social media.
Among the myths: 5G mobile networks can spread COVID-19, catching this coronavirus means a person will have it for life and alcohol consumption can protect someone from contracting the disease. (Click here for an informative World Health Organization list addressing these and other unproven theories.)
Obfuscation and uncertainty also surround COVID-19 and pets. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.” Meanwhile, on April 22, the CDC and the United States Department of Agriculture reported the first confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) in U.S. pets. Two domestic cats from separate areas of New York tested presumptive positive at a private veterinary lab, but the good news is both felines are expected to make a full recovery.
To help determine fact from fiction, the Los Angeles-based nonprofit Michelson Found Animals, which provides a range of animal welfare programs, has researched some of the most discussed topics involving pets and COVID-19.
Pets can transmit COVID-19.
Myth: Companion animals are “dead-end” hosts for the virus, meaning they could become infected but don’t shed enough of the virus to spread it to humans or other animals.
I could get the virus if an infected person pets my dog.
Fact: Both the CDC and the American Veterinary Medical Association have said that pets can’t transmit the virus, but an infected person who touches your dog could leave the virus your pet’s fur, putting others at risk of contracting the virus. It’s best to practice good hygiene and observe social distancing.
I should wash my pet with alcohol-based cleaners.
Myth: Using harsh cleaning products on your pets is dangerous and can cause skin irritation. Instead, wash your hands before and after interacting with your pet and practice good pet hygiene with regular bathing.
I should avoid taking my pet to the dog park.
Fact: Before leaving home, make sure you’re informed on the most recent local orders. Even if dog parks are still open in your neighborhood, opt for a walk or hike instead to avoid unnecessary contact with other pet owners and unleashed dogs at the dog park.
Veterinarians are open and considered essential businesses.
Fact: Many vets offices remain open but may have reduced hours and services in states under “safer at home” or other “shelter in place” orders. Check if your office is providing “no-touch” visits or video call appointments.
It’s not safe to adopt pets from shelters during the pandemic.
Myth: Shelter pets are safe to adopt since pets are not a source of COVID-19, according to the CDC. Stay safe through the adoption process by keeping social distancing and good hygiene practices in mind.
I should separate myself and my pet if I get sick.
Fact: The CDC recommends separating from your pet if you become sick or symptomatic. To prepare, identify someone who can care for your pet and have 30-day supply of food, litter and other supplies ready in case someone outside of your household needs to care for your pet. Compile all vet records, any medication administration records and your vet’s contact information.
Make sure your pet has a collar with ID tag and a registered microchip. Michelson Found Animals offers a free national microchip registry to all pet parents!