COVID-19 – you, your pet and the vet

The current COVID-19 pandemic has in some way affected everyone in the last few months. We will attempt to answer a few questions and shed some light on this topic in regards to your furry, feathered and scaled family members.

So what is COVID-19 and how did it start?

COVID-19 is the disease caused by infection with SARS-CoV-2, a strain of a larger group of coronaviruses. This virus originated in China in 2019 and is said to have first started in wildlife before infecting humans. Don’t get too bogged down or ‘bat’-tered by this information though, as still a lot of research needs to be done to figure out exactly how this happened.

Wait, I think I have heard of this virus before in cats and dogs…

You aren’t wrong – SARS-CoV-2 isn’t the only coronavirus out there. Dogs and cats can get coronaviruses that are DIFFERENT from the one causing COVID-19. Canine coronavirus (CCoV) can cause diarrhoea and gastrointestinal upset in dogs, as well as a mild respiratory illness. Feline coronavirus (FCoV) can cause a mild enteritis or a nastier disease called Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). It is important to note that although these diseases may look like COVID-19, they are not related to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

I’m confused – so can my pet get COVID-19 or can I get COVID-19 from my pet?

The short answer is no.

There is no current evidence to suggest pet cats and dogs are able to cause COVID-19 infection in humans or other animals. But please watch this space! This is an ever-changing environment with new research being produced every day.

Is there anything else I can do to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in terms of my pet?

Practicing basic hygiene is important around your pets regardless of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Washing your hands properly with soap or an alcohol-based rub/sanitiser before and after you spend time with your pet is extremely important. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 then restrict contact with your pets just as you would with another person. Unfortunately, this means resisting cuddles, kisses and sharing food with your furry friend. You can wear a face mask, but your pet can’t!

Can I visit the vet if my pet gets sick?

Yes, we are still operating as an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please ensure that you call for advice and to arrange an appointment before arriving. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, are in self isolation due to returning from overseas or coming into contact with a COVID-19 positive person, or have cold/flu like symptoms, it is advised that you do not leave your house. If your pet is unwell or there is an emergency, arrange for someone who can bring your pet to the vet for you. If this isn’t an option, then call your clinic for further advice and planning from here.

My pet is overdue for vaccinations or a routine check up – what should I do?

Use your judgement. Most routine check-ups and vaccinations can be delayed for a period of time. If you have a new puppy/kitten or rabbit that is due for vaccination then this is considered urgent and you should still make an appointment, however older vaccinated pets can afford to wait. If you aren’t sure as to what is considered routine or urgent then just give us a call to discuss this further. Remember, don’t put the PANIC in PANDEMIC. We will try our best to manage non urgent appointments as best we can.

What should I do when I get to the vet clinic?

If you need to visit the veterinary clinic with your pet, it is advised that you wait with your pet in the car or outside and call the clinic to let us know you have arrived. We will then organise a staff member to come outside and discuss further plans from here. Please be patient with staff and limit contact with those around you at the clinic. Remember this is a difficult situation for everyone and these measures are in place to protect your safety, the safety of veterinarians and staff and the safety of your pet.

We hope this has cleared up a few questions and any concerns regarding your pet and the current COVID-19 pandemic. Inner South Veterinary Centre endeavours to provide the best possible veterinary service during these trying times. We all appreciate your understanding and cooperation.