First published 4/13/2020. Last updated 05/20/2021.
As the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, (the virus that causes COVID-19), continues to impact communities across the globe, we know many of you are concerned about the health and safety of your family—including your pets. Because we at Rover are pet lovers too, we understand and share your concerns. We wanted to do our part to help answer some of the questions we are hearing from the Rover community and pet parents about dogs and the coronavirus.
In consultation with Dr. Gary Richter, a veterinarian on Rover’s Dog People Panel and author of The Ultimate Pet Health Guide, and in accordance with the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), we’ve put together this resource for pet parents to address some of the questions you may have, from disease transmission details to how to keep your pet occupied while you try to get some work done, and to simply provide reassurance and the facts about dogs and COVID-19.
As this is a developing situation, we will continue to closely monitor information related to the disease and update this article with new information as it becomes available.
For more information for sitters and walkers on Rover, please go here.
Important: This resource is intended for educational purposes and should not be considered a substitute for a veterinary examination.
For now, let’s move on to the big question.
Can Pets Get the Coronavirus?
It has been reported that cats are able to contract COVID-19, and a study published by the journal Science, along with recent information from the CDC, supports these reports. According to the study, however, there is no evidence of transmission of the disease from cats to humans, and the CDC continues to maintain the same. As of 4/23/2020, the CDC website says, “At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.”
The situation is ongoing. Reuters reports that the WHO will “take a closer look at transmission of the virus between humans and pets,” and the CDC has indicated it is “working with human and animal health partners to monitor this situation and will continue to provide updates as information becomes available.” We will continue to monitor developments and update this article as necessary.
As indicated above, and, as Richter explains below, we echo the CDC’s common-sense precaution to “wash your hands after being around animals.”
Dogs and Coronavirus: FAQ
Should I be concerned about my dog or cat picking up the novel coronavirus infection?
Cats can get COVID-19 although it does not appear to be common. There is no research or evidence to suggest that a cat can transmit COVID-19 to a human. Veterinary diagnostic labs are beginning to test animals on a limited basis. If you suspect a cat has COVID-19, contact your veterinarian to discuss if testing is available or appropriate.
Should I be cleaning my dog/cat more often? Should I sanitize my pet in any way?
There are no particular precautions regarding keeping pets clean relative to the coronavirus.
If the pet was exposed to an infected person, it is theoretically possible that virus particles on their fur could be picked up by a human as a result of petting (although this is unlikely).
If a pet is suspected to have been exposed to an infected person, bathing the pet should resolve any concerns about them carrying virus on their fur.
Are there things I can do now to mitigate my pet’s future separation anxiety?
Yes! Because many people have spent more time at home with their pets, there is increased risk that their pet could be anxious when they start to leave their house more. Certified Trainer and Dog People Panel member, Nicole Ellis, shared 7 tips for pet parents on how to prevent future separation anxiety in pets.
Working at Home With Dogs: How to Stay Active
Health authorities are recommending “social distancing” to help prevent the spread of the virus. Even if you’re not under quarantine due to an infection with or exposure to COVID-19, you’re likely limiting your activities and you may be working from home.
While your dog may be thrilled to have you around more often, they’re also likely to get bored or restless. And they may very well distract you from getting work done.
As Dr. Richter mentions above, going to the dog park might not be a great idea right now. But daily walks are advisable—both for your dog’s activity level and your own!
Additionally, check out these fun, easy ways to stay active with your dog indoors.
If you’re opting for delivery over in-person shopping, consider a fresh dog food, delivered straight to your door.
And finally, if you’re homebound for the foreseeable future and looking for ways to get extra snuggly with your pets, we have a guide for that, too. It’s called The Ultimate Guide to Getting Cozy With Your Dog (and Cat).
Pet-Safe Cleaning Tips
Washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, and sanitizing surfaces: these recommendations are important in any home, with or without pets.
But as Dr. Richter points out, there’s no need to use special “sanitizing” products on your pet. In fact, hand sanitizer, with its high alcohol content, should not be applied to your dog (or cat). Instead, an ordinary bath with pet-safe soap or shampoo will suffice.
Pet-specific paw wipes are handy for reducing dirt and wiping away potential allergens like pollen and dander. They will not kill germs like the coronavirus, however (just as human baby wipes cannot).
See our recommendations for our favorite pet shampoos here.
Services on Rover and the Coronavirus
Rover continues to monitor updates from the CDC and the WHO and follow their specific recommendations (you can read our official statement to our community on the new coronavirus here). We encourage you to familiarize yourself with the recommendations regarding masks for the CDC in advance of a service or meet and greet. Our team is staying current on all developments surrounding the new coronavirus and will continue to provide resources to keep our community informed and up to date. As this is an evolving situation, please consult the CDC and the WHO for updates.
However, if you are feeling sick, please consider whether you should cancel any services on Rover to reduce the risk of spreading germs to others. For instructions on how to cancel a booking, read this article from the Rover Help Center. You can also contact our customer service team at 888-453-7889 if you have questions about cancellation or booking policies.
More About Pets and the Coronavirus
Pandemic Pets: Have you recently adopted a pet as part of the COVID-19 pet adoption boom? Are you wondering what comes next? From puppies to foster pets and cats to kittens, we’ve put together a resource to help you and your new pet thrive during this unusual time. For more, see our article, So, You Got a Pandemic Pet: Now What? Tips for Pet Parents During the COVID-19 Pet Adoption Boom.
The New Normal: Each day, we’re learning more about the new normal for us humans. But what’s the new normal for our pets? We asked two of Rover‘s Dog People panelists, Dr. Rebecca Greenstein, Veterinary Medical Advisor for Rover and Chief Veterinarian at Kleinburg Veterinary Hospital, and certified professional dog trainer, Nicole Ellis, some questions about how to help our pets adjust during and after this unprecedented time. Read more in our article, Pet Socialization and Wellness During and After a Pandemic: What the Experts Say.
The Silver Lining? Dogs Reduce Stress
We know the news is heavy these days and can feel overwhelming, but Rover has a secret weapon: Dogs are awesome to be around in times of stress!
Other great things about dogs?
- They can’t help falling in love with you.
- They have the best Instagram accounts!
- They’re the best source of feel-good news.
- Every. Single. One. Is. Cute!
- They’re really smart.
- They stimulate the mind.
- Dogs are basically just…the best.
And that’s positive news we can all use.