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Dr. Bennett and a black dog.

Dr. Bennett’s Office: COVID-19 – human and animal health

By Dr. Victoria Bennett, Veterinary Advisor, CNIB Guide Dogs

The current outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is having serious impacts for people on a global and individual basis. To date, no COVID-19 clinical cases in pets have been detected but two healthy dogs in Hong Kong have tested positive for COVID-19 after the owners were confirmed to be infected – this may indicate human to animal transfer. Currently, these dogs and four cats are in quarantine, as it is unclear what risk (if any) they pose to other animals and people.

To protect humans and pets (dogs, cats and ferrets), the following precautions are advised:

  • Pets should not be in contact with people infected with COVID-19.
  • Pets must be isolated with people if they have been together at/before the time of the COVID-19 diagnosis or potential exposure to COVID-19. They should not be exposed to new animals or people during this period.
  • Standard hygiene measures are key (handwashing, covering coughs, etc.) 

What if my pet needs to go to the vet?

  • Call your vet first: In an effort to minimize the risk of infection, hours and services will likely be reduced to essential/emergency care only, access may be limited (wait in vehicle until you’re asked to come in) and there may be increased disinfection protocols. Over-the-phone payments have been implemented at some offices.
  • Do not take your pet to the vet if you are sick for any reason, in isolation or have had recent travel. Send someone who is healthy with no travel history.  
  • Limits to the quantity of pet food and prescription purchases are likely to ensure a constant supply is available.

Please refer to the Worms & Germs blog, an educational website coordinated by the Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses at the Ontario Veterinary College, for more information about COVID-19.