How to Keep Your Pets Safe & Happy During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Jessica Kasparian, ,USA TODAY

News surfaced that the dog of a coronavirus patient in China tested “weak positive” and in the same internet instant, photos of dogs wearing medical face masks popped up all over the web.

While maintaining the health of yourself and the people around you is at the forefront of the world’s focus during the coronavirus (a.k.a., COVID-19) pandemic, these headlines and memes have brought up an important question: What about your pets?

Your pets are safe from coronavirus

The CDC says there’s no evidence that any animals in the US have contracted or can spread the virus. This also means that quarantining them is an unnecessary measure. (And using medical masks, even for entertaining photo ops, is a wasteful and potentially dangerous practice, in light of shortages of these essential supplies at hospitals that really need them.) As for the pomeranian in China, the initial assumption was that he tested weak positive due to contamination around his mouth or nose from his coronavirus-suffering owner, but he was quarantined and later tested negative.

You should still take precautions

What remains uncertain is if pets can carry the virus on their fur in the same way that the virus could live on hard surfaces for up to three days (and potentially on soft materials like cardboard boxes or laundry for 24 hours). Because we still have a lot to learn about this novel illness, erring on the side of caution is never a bad idea. There are healthy habits that the CDC recommends upholding in everyday life with a pet, including washing your hands after handling them, to ensure the health of you and your pet, particularly as the coronavirus escalates.

If you become sick (with confirmed coronavirus or otherwise), the CDC recommends restricting your contact with your pets, the same as you would with humans. Even though there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 affects animals, it’s certainly possible a connection may be discovered as more research is done. This doesn’t mean an ill person can’t take a dog for a walk or personally put down the cat’s food bowl, but they should limit petting, snuggling, or kissing (basically, maintain a “social distance”), just in case.

Make sure you have a good stock of food and treats

Keeping your pets eating well and on the same diet is a recommendation for maintaining their good health in general. Grocery stores and online retailers are rapidly selling out of household essentials like toilet paper, and while we do not encourage anyone to over-buy, it’s smart to check on your pet food supply to ensure you have at least a couple of weeks’ worth, just in case.

Keep your pets entertained—so they don’t bother you

Whether you’re trying to work from home or you’re feeling sick, there are plenty of options for keeping needy pets busy and out of your personal space (not that we blame them—suddenly, you’re invading theirs!). Luckily, unlike humans who crave electronics, games, and crafts to stay entertained at home, most pets are more easily occupied.

Entertain both your pets and yourself

When you’re looking to fill your (no doubt more abundant) idle time at home—and assuming you’re not sick—take advantage of some quality playtime with your little shadow. (And, seriously, you cannot underestimate the power of a furry friend’s antics for a much-needed moment of levity.)


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