First published 13/4/2020. Last updated 29/4/2020.
As the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, (the virus that causes COVID-19), continues its advance 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 vet on Rover’s Dog People Panel and author of The Ultimate Pet Health Guide, and in accordance with the latest guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO), GOV.UK, and the NHS, 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.
We will continue to monitor the progress of the disease and update this article with new information as it becomes available.
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 23/4/2020, 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
We asked Dr. Gary Richter, a vet on Rover’s Dog People Panel and author of The Ultimate Pet Health Guide, some frequently asked questions about pets and the coronavirus.
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 sanitise 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 patting (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 the virus on their fur.
Should I change my behaviour around my cat/dog while this disease is going around?
There is no evidence to suggest this is necessary.
Should I be afraid of patting other dogs, going to the park, or gathering in large groups of other pets?
The concern here is from people, not other animals. Going to the park might expose people to other infected humans. There is currently no evidence to suggest that transmission from dog (or cat) to human has occurred.
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. If you do have access to wide open spaces where you can limit social interaction with others, and you’re not required to stay at home, daily walks are advisable—both for your dog’s activity level and your own!
However, if you’re homebound for the foreseeable future, check out these fun, easy ways to stay active with your dog indoors. Other ideas for keeping busy include puzzle toys for dogs and enriching games and activities like these.
Pet-Safe Cleaning Tips
Washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, and sanitising 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 “sanitising” products on your pet. In fact, hand sanitiser, 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. They will not kill germs like the coronavirus however (just like human baby wipes cannot).
Services on Rover and the Coronavirus
Rover continues to monitor updates from the WHO, GOV.UK, and the NHS, and follow their specific recommendations (you can read our official statement to our community on the new coronavirus here). 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 WHO, GOV.UK, and the NHS for updates. However, if you are feeling ill, please consider whether you should cancel any services on Rover to reduce the risk of spreading germs to others. Rover’s Help Centre has instructions on how to cancel a booking if you’re a dog owner here and if you’re a sitter here. You can also contact our customer service team at 0808-281-2524 if you have questions about cancellation or booking policies.
The Silver Lining? Your Dog’s Always There for You!
We know the news is heavy these days and can feel overwhelming, but Rover has a secret weapon: Dogs!
Let’s be honest, is there anyone you’d rather be around during a stressful time? We’re sure you’re less than enthusiastic about the prospect of being stuck inside, but you can count yourself lucky if you have a dog to spend time with! Our furry friends are famous for brightening our lives so make sure you return the favour and comfort them if they’re also feeling anxious. Show them how much you love them by playing their favourite games, treating them to a new toy, and teaching them new tricks to ease their boredom—and to show off to your friends when it’s safe to socialise again. Make the most of your time together and take comfort in the fact that you’re not going through this alone.