What pet owners should know about COVID-19


What pet owners should know about COVID-19

For pet lovers, few things reduce stress like snuggling with your four-legged friend or playing together.
But can pets get COVID-19? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. While the virus generally spreads from person to person, dogs, cats and other animals have been known to contract COVID-19.
The good news is that the number of known instances in which a pet has been infected with the disease is small, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and animals are not believed to play a significant role in spreading it to humans.


More often, pets appear to be contracting COVID-19 from their owners – not the other way around. At least two dogs in the U.S. with COVID-19 have died.   
“COVID-19 is a new disease, and researchers are still learning about the role of animals in its spread,” says Dr. Gerald Harmon, vice president of medical affairs at Tidelands Health. “Fortunately, it appears animals don’t play a substantial role, but for their sake and your own, it’s still a good idea to err on the side of caution and follow the pet safety precautions recommended by the CDC.”

  • If you become ill with COVID-19, isolate yourself from your pet like you would from other members of your household. Avoid close contact, including petting, snuggling, being licked or kissed or sharing food or bedding.
  • If you must care for your pet while ill, wash your hands before and after you interact with your pet and wear a mask.
  • When you walk your dog, keep it at least six feet away from other people and animals. As adorable as they may be, don’t pet other dogs you encounter and don’t let others pet your furry friend.
  • Keep your pets away from places where people and animals congregate, and consider avoiding dog parks. It is especially important you do not take your dog to a dog park if the animal is ill, if you are ill or if you have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19.
  • Cats should be kept indoors to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.

If your pet gets sick after contact with a person with COVID-19, do not take your pet to the veterinary clinic yourself. Instead, call your veterinarian for direction on what to do next.
“Based upon what we know now, you are at far greater risk of contracting COVID-19 from someone out in public than you are a pet,” Dr. Harmon says. “So if you leaving your home, be sure to wear a mask, social distance, avoid crowds and practice good hand hygiene.’

Meet the Expert

Dr. Gerald Harmon

Dr. Gerald Harmon, who has cared for patients in our region for more than 35 years, is a family medicine physician and vice president of medical affairs at Tidelands Health.

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