Companion Animals & Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As our thoughts and headlines are consumed with the coronavirus crisis, it’s natural to worry about our pets during this time. Some impressive progress has been made in investigating the companion animal role in this disease, but there are still many questions left to be answered.  

The internet provides a wealth of information and misinformation on this topic. Below is a summary of what we know to date, as well as some guidelines for how pet-owners can keep themselves, and their companion animals safe during this crisis.

SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, has been demonstrated to infect dogs, cats and ferrets. Even though this is true, the pattern of spread of this disease in communities and around the globe suggests that human-to-human transmission is the most important, if not the only, source of disease spread. There have been no documented cases of a human contracting COVID-19 from a companion animal.

There are at least three documented cases of dogs contracting SARS-CoV-2 from their infected owners, and at least one manuscript describing experimental infection (intentional inoculation).  Of the companion animals that we know can host the virus, dogs appear to be the least suitable hosts.  None of the known infected dogs showed any signs of illness. Healthy dogs that were housed in close contact with infected dogs did not contract the virus. Repeated testing has so far shown that the virus can only persist in dogs for a short period of time.

These small, early investigations provide hope that dogs cannot get sick due to SARS-CoV-2, and that they cannot shed the virus in large enough quantities to contribute to the spread of the disease to other dogs (and hopefully people).

Cats, large and small, are better hosts for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  Early observations in natural and experimental settings demonstrate that cats can be infected with the virus, and that they can become ill. Illness in cats appears to be milder that what we’ve observed in humans. Early research also suggests that infected cats can transmit the virus to healthy cats in close proximity.  There has been no evidence to suggest that cats can transmit the virus to humans at this time.

Again, it is important to stress that that there have been no cases of pets becoming seriously ill due to SARS-CoV-2, and there have been no documented cases of pets transmitting the virus to humans. The pattern of spread continues to support human-to-human transmission as the primary, if not the sole, route of natural transmission to people. That being said, there are still large gaps in what we know. While we wait for further information to become available, there are several important steps that pet owners need to take to protect themselves, their animal companions, and their communities.

  • Avoid close contact with your pets (kissing, snuggling, bed-sharing, and food-sharing) particularly if you are ill
  • Wash your hands before and after feeding, handling and cleaning up after your pet
  • Keep cats indoors and practice social distancing when walking your dog
  • Scoop the poop and dispose of it in appropriate receptacles
  • Avoid using kennels, catteries, group dog-walkers, groomers and pet daycares at this time
  • Keep your pets out of the shelter system
  • Make arrangements for someone to care for your pets should you become ill or otherwise unable to care for your pets
  • Avoid contact with your pets if you work in a high-risk area (i.e. healthcare providers)
  • Keep sick pets separate from people and other animals.  Designate one household member to care for a sick pet, limit contact, and wash hands thoroughly
  • If you or a household member contract COVID-19, and your pet becomes ill, notify your veterinarian by phone right away
  • Prevent contact between your pet and feral animals, strays, barn cats, and wildlife

Finally, do not surrender, abandon, or re-home your pets as a result of COVID-19 fears. Staying home remains the best way to keep you, your community, and your companion animals safe and happy.

Written by: Dr. Sperry, DVM, Veterinary Advisor, Pets Plus Us


Doggy Doldrums


Chewing, Digging, Barking, or Whining?

Signs your four-legged friend may be bored and what you can do about it.

Love your pup but feeling frustrated by some of their less-lovable behavior? It could be that your dog is looking for your attention because they’re bored and in need of stimulation. Here are the top behavioral signs of dog boredom and what you can do about it. Is your dog ripping apart items in the garbage, pulling items off the countertops, digging up the backyard, or chewing through other items? It could be a sign that your furry pal is bored.  Excessive chewing, digging, counter surfing, and getting into the trash are all signs of boredom.

If your pup is barking or whining excessively, there are several possible reasons, with boredom being one of them. If they are home alone or lacking in stimulation, they will find their way to stay occupied. Standing guard at the window or in the yard, barking and whining at animals, people, and just about anything else, is one way for them to stay busy. If your pooch is following you around the house, it may be out of boredom. Our furry friends are heavily dependent on us humans for their entertainment– especially for those long hikes in the woods and visits to the dog park! A bored dog may follow you around, hoping that it’s time to head off and do something fun. 

To bring an end to these less-than-desired behaviors, give your dog something more constructive to do. You want to tire them out both physically and mentally. Regular daily exercise is important – and not just a walk. For dogs with higher energy needs, play fetch, have them run with canine companions at a dog park, or have them spend the day at a quality doggie daycare. Find activities that provide your pup with good mental stimulation. For example, a Kong toy filled with treats can keep your dog entertained, out of trouble, and help to mentally exhaust them. While the behaviors may be frustrating, remember that your dog’s actions are often a sign of something else at play. By providing your pup with good physical and mental stimulation, you can minimize boredom and may alleviate the behaviors.

... Pets Plus Us, July 2019

Road Trip Treats for You & Your Dog



Whether you’re running errands around town, or road-tripping through the U.S., one of the highlights could be a tasty drive-thru treat. If you’re in transit with your furry pal in the backseat, you may be interested to know that there are a number of restaurants that provide pet-only menu items.

In Canada and the U.S.

Dairy Queen offers the Pup Cup – a free, small soft serve vanilla ice cream cup.

Starbucks is home to the Puppacino. So, when you place your Frappuccino order, your dog can enjoy their own version of the treat.

When you pull up to the country’s iconic coffee shop, Tim Horton’s will serve your pup a dog-friendly Tim Bit. All you need to do is ask.

In the U.S.

In the U.S., you can pull up to In-N-Out and treat your dog to a pup patty, which is a plain salt-free burger patty. Shake shack is home to the Pooch-ini, which is a special blend of dog biscuits, peanut butter, and vanilla custard. They also offer the Bag O’Bones, which contains five specially made dog biscuits. A number of Sonic locations keep dog treats on hand, so let them know you have a pooch on board when you place your order!

You can also be creative and choose pup-friendly food from the majority of your drive-thru favorites. Cooked chicken, eggs, and limited quantities of whole wheat bread are tasty and appropriate snacks for your dog. Of course, you know your pet (and their tummy sensitivities!) best. So keep any allergies and sensitivities in mind when choosing “human” food. And, remember, it’s also best to keep these as road travel treats rather than part of your pup’s daily routine.

... from Pets + Us July 2019


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Pets + Us - Total peace of mind for you and your pet.

If your pet has an accident or becomes ill, you’ll want to give him or her the best care, without worrying about the expense. The cost of an illness – even just the diagnosis – can be high. Accident & Illness coverage means you’re as prepared as you can be.