Q: Should we be testing the pets of people with confirmed cases of COVID-19?
A: That’s [not] everybody’s top priority right now. It should be discussed, however, if we start seeing more cases like the Hong Kong Pomeranian.
Q: Can pets serve as a reservoir of the virus and pass it back to us?
A: If pets can become infected—and we don’t know if they can—then yes, they could serve as a reservoir. And in that case, we’d need to deal with them the same way we’re dealing with human cases. We’d need to figure how to treat them. Like human hospitals, vet hospitals would have to be prepared for a surge in the number of cases.
Q: Would we quarantine our pets too?
A: Yes, just like humans, some might be quarantined at a hospital. Or a shelter. Or even a doggy day care. If they had the virus but weren’t sick, you could quarantine them at home. You’d want to limit your contact with them. Perhaps keep them in a bedroom away from other people and animals. You’d want to wash your hands frequently, and perhaps wear a mask when you entered the room.
Q: If you have people in the same house—some quarantined, some not—can the pet visit both?
A: No. Out of an abundance of caution, the answer should be no.
Q: What should we be doing right now to protect our pets?
A: It is important to include pets in your family’s preparedness planning. If you get sick and are quarantined, you should make sure you have extra pet food on hand. And you should make your neighbors aware of any feeding, walking, or medications that your pets need in case you can’t make it back home. Get prepared now. I live alone with my cat. I have extra food on hand. Even if he doesn’t need it [soon], he’s going to eat it eventually.