With parts of the world shutting down to minimize the spread of COVID-19, the Loving Family Animal Hospital team is also doing their part to keep pets, their owners, and our community safe and healthy. As the situation rapidly changes, we are staying up-to-date on the latest research and information available, and doing everything we can to continue to provide the best of care.
The greatest weapon in our arsenal in combating this pandemic is knowledge—knowledge of how the disease is transmitted, who is at risk, and what you can do to stay safe. As we learn more about this disease, we will update you, but the following information is what we currently know.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that first appeared late last year. As a betacoronavirus, COVID19 is thought to have originated from bats, and then evolved to infect people. Coronaviruses often infect people, and many other species—in fact, the common cold is caused by a coronavirus. This particular strain is spread mostly through person-to-person contact, such as one person coughing or sneezing, and another inhaling the respiratory droplets. Another transmission method is through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, such as door handles, light switches, and clothing. Once infected, a person will develop respiratory issues, such as coughing, sore throat, fever, and difficulty breathing.
Can my pet get COVID-19?
While one dog in Hong Kong tested positive for COVID-19, he showed no illness signs, and eventually tested negative while quarantined. A major veterinary diagnostic laboratory has evaluated thousands of canine and feline samples, but discovered no positive results. Based on how the disease is spreading, the fact that almost no pets have tested positive for COVID-19, and the absence of clinical signs, leading health organizations have declared there is no evidence to indicate pets can become ill from COVID-19. They have also stated that pets do not serve as an infection source, and cannot transmit the disease to people, unless a person has extremely close contact with fur that has been sneezed or coughed on.
Keep in mind that while pets can get coronaviruses, they are usually species-specific, and there is no evidence they can be infected with COVID-19. Dogs can become infected with either an enteric or respiratory form, causing diarrhea, or signs similar to kennel cough. Cats can also become infected with an enteric form, and develop diarrhea.
How should I care for my pet if I have COVID-19?
Despite the total lack of evidence that pets become ill from COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that someone else care for your pet if you are sick. If that is not an option, they recommend the following steps, out of an abundance of caution:
- Wash your hands before and after handling your pet.
- Avoid kissing, snuggling, or hugging your pet.
- Do not share food with your pet.
What should I do if I’m sick, and my pet becomes ill?
If your pet develops respiratory issues after exposure to a person infected with COVID-19, contact us immediately. Since this disease is in its early stages, there is still much we don’t know, although pets do not appear to become infected at this time. However, a cough or sneeze in your pet can indicate a variety of disease processes that we must rule out.
How is Loving Family Animal Hospital taking precautions to keep my pet and family safe?
To help minimize the infection risk in our community, we are implementing strict new protocols, to ensure we provide the safest environment for our clients, patients, and team members. Before heading to our hospital, call to check on our newest protocols designed to keep you safe. Our current policies include:
- We ask that people do not enter our hospital if they have any COVID-19 symptoms, or have traveled recently.
- We ask that you reschedule your pet’s wellness visit or elective procedure, if it is not absolutely necessary.
- We ask that you refrain from handshakes, hugs, or longer-than-necessary interactions with our team, and maintain a six-foot distance from others.
- We are allowing cats and dogs admittance into our hospital through either entrance. A team member will immediately usher you into a room, but if a room is not available, maintain a safe distance from others in the lobby, or wait in your vehicle.
- All Purina and Hill’s food must be ordered online from their ship-to-home programs.
- For Purina food, go to purinavetdirect.com and enter Clinic ID F1761.
- For Hill’s food, contact us to let us know you are interested, and we can register for you once we have your approval.
- We will be removing pens from the front desk, and magazines from our client areas, to reduce the number of fomites where the virus can live. Each client will receive a clean pen to sign forms and receipts, and the pens will be disinfected after each use.
- Technician appointments will be escorted into exam rooms immediately, or we can get the pet from your car while you wait.
- We are minimizing person-to-person contact between team members and clients.
- We will be limiting the number of clients entering our hospital in the following ways:
- Temporarily extending most appointment times to one hour
- Cutting down on unnecessary staffing
- Taking food and medications out to your car, and advising you to order food online
- Providing curbside check-in by taking your pet’s history over the phone, and retrieving your pet from the car with a slip lead
- Providing telemedicine via phone or email consultations with a veterinarian for pets seen for a comprehensive exam during the last year
- We have increased the frequency of disinfecting commonly touched surfaces, such as door handles, countertops, and chair arms, throughout our hospital.
- Any team member who experiences any symptoms must stay home.
We are doing our best to be responsible in these unfortunate times, and will stay committed to providing you and your pet with the same level of exceptional care. Call or email us with any concerns, or to let us know how we can better serve you, as we go through this crisis together.