Our pets are part of our families. And with the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) on the rise worldwide, it becomes essential to include our pets in our home planning. In the United States, there is currently no evidence to suggest that any animals—including household pets, livestock, or wildlife—might be a source of COVID-19 infection. So while it is unlikely that cats and dogs can spread the virus or get sick from it, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we should still take precautions that limit their exposure and that involve a plan for their care.
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The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) provides a helpful list of essentials for pets in preparedness planning for house fires, natural disasters, and other emergencies such as COVID-19. "I recommend reviewing the AVMA's pet-evacuation kit checklist for a list of items to have on hand," says Emily McCobb, director of the Cummings School Shelter Medicine Program at Tufts University, "and stocking up on two weeks' worth of food, water, medicines, flea and tick prevention, kitty litter (if needed), and cleaning supplies for your pet."
This is also a good time to ensure that pets' routine vaccinations are up to date, both for their general health and in the event that you must stay at home. Compile identification papers including proof of ownership, medical records, and medication instructions, as well as an emergency contact list, including your local veterinarian and pharmacy. And don't forget home comforts—their favorite toys and treats, or familiar bedding with your scent. Calming aids are helpful during this tumultuous time.
Have a contingency plan: If you get sick, you will need to isolate yourself from your family and pets. Have someone else who is not sick take care of your pet; they should wash their hands before and after touching them, their food, or their supplies. There may not yet be evidence that pets can get the coronavirus but it is better to be cautious for their sake and yours.
We may need to practice physical distancing at this time to slow the spread of the virus, but you should still reach out to your network. Call, text, or email those who can become part of your emergency plan for your animals, and reach out to your trusted veterinarian with any concerns.