CORONAVIRUSES & PETS
Updated April 2, 2020
The human coronavirus (COVID-19) is in the news a lot these days, and some reports are based on
fact, others speculation. We don’t have all the answers, but as a pet owner – or someone who
spends a lot of time around pets – here’s what you should know:
• Follow current COVID-19 health official recommendations from the World Health
Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).
• Based on what we know now, and what is known about other coronaviruses, there is no
evidence that dogs or cats in a domestic environment can be a source of COVID-19
infection to humans or other animals—and limited evidence to support risk of the
virus to pets.
• However, any surface with which a person infected with COVID-19 comes into contact
may transfer the virus or viral RNA, including pet fur or nasal secretions. As such, it is
advised to keep pets away from infected people, and to confine pets of infected people.
• Always follow good handwashing and hygiene practices, especially before and after
interacting with pets. Avoid contact with wildlife, including those kept as pets. Routinely
clean and disinfect animal contact surfaces like cages and feeding areas, as well as
immediately after contact with high-risk animals, such as wildlife and stray or free-roaming
dogs and cats.
• If your pet shows signs of respiratory illness (coughing, sneezing, lethargy or
otherwise), call your veterinarian at the first sign of illness, and keep them isolated
from other pets as a precautionary measure. Signs of illness in dogs and cats are usually
associated with various viral and bacterial infections (kennel cough, canine flu, etc.) that are
neither coronaviruses nor transmissible to people.
• Stay apprised of the latest information from reputable sources such as:
o World Small Animal Veterinary Association: Coronavirus & Companion Animals
o World Organization for Animal Health (OIE): Questions and Answers on the 2019
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
o U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): About Coronavirus Disease
CORONAVIRUSES & PETS: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Are dogs and cats at risk of contracting the virus that causes COVID-19?
Based on what we know now, and what is known about other coronaviruses, there is no evidence
that domestic dogs or cats can be a source of COVID-19 infection to humans or other animals. There
is limited evidence to support risk of the virus to pets, and testing pets remains unwarranted. In an
abundance of caution, however, it is advised to keep pets away from infected people and to confine
pets of infected people.
It’s also critical to follow current health official recommendations as this situation evolves. You can
get the latest information from reputable sources such as:
• World Small Animal Veterinary Association: Coronavirus and Companion Animals Advice
• World Organization for Animal Health (OIE): Questions and Answers on the 2019
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
• U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): About Coronavirus Disease 2019
But what about the reports I’m hearing of dogs and cats with low-level COVID-19?
According to reports, a small number of pets belonging to people infected with COVID-19 have been
tested for the virus. There is still no evidence that pet-to-human transmission of COVID-19 can
occur in a domestic environment, and the risk of human-to-animal transmission remains very
Any surface with which a person infected with COVID-19 comes into contact may transfer the virus
or viral RNA, including pet fur or nasal secretions. As such, good hand and respiratory hygiene
should be practiced when handling pets. It is also advised to keep pets away from infected people,
and to confine pets of infected people.
Why does information about COVID-19 keep changing?
COVID-19 is a newly emerging disease, and the situation is still evolving. We are learning more
about the disease COVID-19 and the SARS-CoV-2 virus every day.
How can I protect my pet from exposure to the COVID-19 virus?
While there is limited evidence to support risk of COVID-19 virus to your pet, we recommend the
following precautions regardless:
• Wash hands after handling animals or their environment; supervise handwashing for
children less than five years of age.
• Keep pets away from people confirmed to have COVID-19, and confine pets of infected
people to limit potential spread.
• Protect your skin from direct contact with animal feces by wearing vinyl or household
cleaning gloves or using a plastic bag when cleaning up after a pet.
• Promptly wash bites and scratches inflicted by animals.
• Do not allow pets to lick open wounds, cuts, medical devices or the faces of young children
and immunocompromised people.
• Avoid contact with wildlife kept as pets, consumed as food and in the environment, and
walk pets on a leash outdoors to prevent contact with wildlife.
• Routinely clean and disinfect animal contact surfaces (e.g., cages, feeding areas) and
immediately after contact with high-risk species (such as wildlife or free-roaming or stray
dogs and cats) or raw animal-based food items.
• Help ensure your pets remain healthy with regular preventive care, including steps to
control and prevent parasites. Call your veterinarian at the first sign of illness in your pet.
Should my pet wear a mask?
No. There’s no scientific evidence that face masks protect pets from infectious diseases or air
pollutants, and masks have the potential to be unnecessarily scary or uncomfortable for pets.
If pet fur can carry the virus, does that mean I should clean or wipe my pets down with
No. While it’s easy to disinfect a doorknob or countertop with disinfectant wipes, alcohol or bleach,
all of these things could harm your pet. There is currently no evidence to support additional bathing
of pets as a result of COVID-19. When you do bathe your pet, always use a mild shampoo specifically
formulated for pets and lots of water to avoid causing skin problems with harsher soaps or
Should I get my pet tested for COVID-19?
At this time, testing pets for COVID-19 virus is unwarranted. There is currently no evidence that
domestic pet dogs or cats can be a source of infection to other animals or humans.
People who test positive for COVID-19 should be isolated from others including children, spouses
and pets to ensure that they do not inadvertently transfer infection, per World Health Organization
What about hygiene and care of my exotic pets (including rodents and ferrets)?
COVID-19 is a human virus, and the greatest risk is transmission between people.
There is still no evidence that small exotic pets such as ferrets and hamsters can carry or transmit
the virus that causes human COVID-19. As a precaution, we recommend keeping exotic pets in a
safe enclosure and away from people infected with COVID-19.
Should I be worried about Hantavirus, given a man in China recently died following
Hantavirus is not a newly emerging virus. Infections are rare and involve exposure to bites, urine or
feces of rodents, rats and/or mice. Human-to-human transmission is very rare.
The symptoms for humans infected by Hantavirus are similar to those present in patients battling
COVID-19 and include shortness of breath, coughing, headaches and fevers. While this is being
reported in the news, Hantavirus is not related to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
As always, pet owners should maintain good hygiene standards when handling pets, and caution
should be taken to avoid exposure to non-domesticated rats and mice. Pet rodents should be kept in
sanitary conditions not exposed to wild members of these species.
What if my pet’s not feeling well or is showing signs of flu-like illness?
If your pet shows any signs of illness, such as coughing, sneezing or lethargy, call your veterinarian
immediately, and keep them indoors as a precaution. Signs of illness in dogs and cats are usually
associated with various viral and bacterial infections (kennel cough, canine flu, etc.) that are neither
coronaviruses nor transmissible to people.
If you’re a CareClub client, you can connect with a veterinarian anytime, day or night, via our
telehealth service, LiveChat.
What if I’m not feeling well, recently visited a high-risk area and/or am quarantined due to
potential COVID-19 virus exposure, but my pet still needs medical attention?
If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms or are quarantined due to potential coronavirus
exposure, stay home and call your medical provider for advice on next steps.
If your pet does not require immediate veterinary care, keep them at home and avoid contact with
other people and animals; we’ll be happy to help you reschedule any appointments for your pet
until you’re well.
What is known about other coronaviruses in cats and dogs?
While there’s still limited evidence to support risk of COVID-19 virus infection to dogs or cats, there
are other coronaviruses that do impact pets, none of which are transmissible to people:
• Cats: Feline enteric coronavirus (FCoV) causes a mild or asymptomatic infection in
domestic cats, and most signs are gastrointestinal-related. The widespread virus is more
common in areas of higher cat numbers (catteries, shelters).
• Dogs: Two known coronaviruses exist in dogs. The gastrointestinal form can range from
asymptomatic or mild diarrhea to severe debilitating inflammation of the small intestine,
which in puppies, will occasionally result in death. Most dogs have a mild disease consisting
of cough, sneezing, and nasal discharge.
What is the treatment for coronaviruses in pets?
There is no specific treatment for coronaviruses in dogs or cats, as mild clinical signs are unlikely to
require therapy. Supportive care, including replacement of lost fluids, nutritional support, and antinausea
medication, may be used for more severe cases. Hospitalization is rarely necessary.
Antibiotics are not effective against viruses and therefore will not help treat coronaviruses.
Can manufactured pet food carry COVID-19 virus?
It is highly unlikely that dry or canned pet foods are potential viral vectors.
Hill’s Pet Nutrition Expands Voluntary Recall of
Select Canned Dog Food for Elevated Vitamin D
Update March 20, 6:00 pm CDT:
(Topeka, Kan) Hill’s Pet Nutrition today announced it is expanding its recall of select canned dog food products due to elevated levels of vitamin D. This recall expansion was caused by the same vitamin premix received from a U.S. supplier that was the source of the January 31, 2019, recall and is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
While vitamin D is an essential nutrient for dogs, ingestion of elevated levels can lead to potential health issues depending on the level of vitamin D and the length of exposure, and dogs may exhibit symptoms such as vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, excessive drooling, and weight loss. When consumed at very high levels, vitamin D can in rare cases lead to potentially life threatening health issues in dogs, including renal dysfunction. Pet parents with dogs who have consumed any of the products listed and are exhibiting any of these signs should contact their veterinarian. In most cases, complete recovery is expected after discontinuation of feeding.
In the United States, the affected canned dog foods were distributed through retail pet stores and veterinary clinics nationwide. No dry foods, cat foods, or treats are affected.
Pet parents in the U.S. who purchased the product with the specific lot/date codes listed should discontinue feeding and dispose of those products immediately or return unopened product to your retailer for a refund. For more information, please contact Hill’s via our website or at 1-800-445-5777.
Impacted products outside of the United States will be subject to separate notices on the country-specific website. If you are outside of the United States, please check your own country’s Hill’s website for more information.
Hill’s Pet Nutrition learned of the potential for elevated vitamin D levels in some of our canned dog foods after receiving a complaint in the United States about a dog exhibiting signs of elevated vitamin D levels. Our investigation confirmed elevated levels of vitamin D due to a supplier error.
Following that recall, we conducted a detailed review of all canned dog foods potentially impacted by the vitamin premix with elevated levels of vitamin D. This review included: analyzing consumer complaints; reviewing veterinarian medical consultations; auditing our supplier; and reviewing our own manufacturing and quality procedures. We then did additional product testing to ensure we had taken all appropriate action. Our review determined that there were additional products affected by that vitamin premix, and it is for that reason that we are expanding the recall. Hill’s has received a limited number of complaints of pet illness related to some of these products.
As a company, and as pet parents ourselves, we deeply regret the concern that this recall and subsequent expansion have caused pet parents and any possible effect the recalled foods may have had on pets. We are committed to doing more to uphold the standards of pet care that pet parents and veterinarians expect of us to earn back their trust.
For further information, please contact Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. at 1-800-445-5777 every day during the hours of 7am-7pm (CST) or send us a message.
FDA Alert for Bravecto, Credelio, Nexgard and Simparica
The FDA is alerting pet owners and veterinarians of the potential for neurologic adverse events in dogs and cats when treated with drugs that are in the isoxazoline class. These products are FDA approved for the treatment and prevention of flea and tick infestations and include: Bravecto, Credelio, Nexgard and Simparica.
Although these products can and have been used safely in the majority of dogs and cats, pet owners should consult with their veterinarian to review their pets' medical histories and determine whether a product in the isoxazoline class is appropriate.
Symptoms to watch for include: muscle tremors, ataxia (difficulty walking), and seizures in some dogs and cats. Although most dogs and cats haven't had neurologic adverse reactions, seizures may occur in animals without prior history.
The FDA considers products in the isoxazoline class to be safe and effective for dogs and cats, but is providing this information so that pet owners and veterinarians can take it into consideration when choosing flea and tick products for their pets.
BOUTIQUE, EXOTIC-INGREDIENT AND GRAIN-FREE DIETS
Recent media stories have raised the concern for potential health problems in dogs fed boutique, exotic-ingredient or grain-free diets (BEG Diets). Many of these diets exchange routine grains for alternative proteins such as legumes favored by health-conscious individuals. These legume proteins are often added in excess amounts and touted as nutritious and better for gluten-sensitive stomachs and closer to ancestral canine diets. Exotic-ingredient diets can substitute extensively studied animal protein sources such as chicken and beef for lesser-studied animal protein sources as kangaroo, alligator, bison and venison.
However, the Food and Drug Administration has recently announced that it is investigating an association between the development of certain types of heart disease, particularly dilated cardiomyopathy, and dogs that are fed exclusively BEG diets. These developments are causing veterinarians to evaluate the safety of long-term use of these types of food.
Dilated cardiomyopathy (also known as “DCM”) is a condition in which the heart weakens and becomes enlarged. Symptoms can include fatigue, coughing, fainting and difficulty breathing, and some dogs can experience acute heart failure. It is most typically seen in large breed dogs that have a genetic predisposition for it, but has been seen among other breeds as well.
It is believed that a contributing factor to the development of DCM in dogs fed exclusively BEG diets is that these BEG diets are heavy in lentils, peas, chickpeas and potatoes which are intended to replace carbohydrates found in grains commonly used in diets. There is still a lot of information that is not yet known as to why BEG diets may be correlated with heart problems, but current research may soon provide an answer to us. Grains are an important source of protein and other nutrients and have not been linked to any health problems in pets except in very rare situations when a pet has an allergy to a specific grain. However, most food allergies in pets are due to a reaction to a protein source, not a carbohydrate source.
The fad of feeding BEG diets emerged as a marketing strategy from pet food companies in 2007 as a response to pet food recalls from food contaminated with Melarmine from China. The advent of BEG diets was not a veterinary recommendation, and companies that have been fueling this fad often produce diets that have not been adequately researched for safety and nutritional quality. Out of concern for our patients and unless specifically recommended by your veterinarian, we recommend feeding a non-BEG diet from a reputable pet food company that includes an AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) statement on the food packaging. Ideally this statement should indicate that the food has undergone feeding trials per AAFCO guidelines. However, it is acceptable if the food simply meets the guidelines set forth by AAFCO. Reputable food companies that have undergone these feeding trials, quality control and have veterinary nutritionists on staff work to assure that your pet’s food is complete and balanced will provide the healthiest and safest diets for your pet.
If you have any questions or concerns about feeding your pet a BEG diet, please contact us and we will be more than happy to discuss this with you to determine the most appropriate diet for your pet.
We have had several inquiries about the recent outbreak of Canine Influenza. The disease seems to occur in "pockets" around the country. At this time, we are not experiencing any instances of disease in this area so we are not recommending vaccination. We will continue to monitor this as it develops. For more information, please refer to the following website link from the American Veterinary Medical Association:
Enduring disaster can be a devastating thing to experience, but there are measures that you can take to help protect your pet and identify your pet should you become separated. Please read the document below and the helpful links that it contains to provide you with valuable information to help protect your pet.
Microsoft Word document [112.5 KB]
Is your pet itching, scratching and biting at himself? Are you seeing fleas on your pet or in your home? You may be suffering from fleas. Read more about the signs of fleas on your pet and what to do about them.
Flea Control in Your Home.docx
Microsoft Word document [76.4 KB]
None of us wants to think about our pet companions getting lost or separated from us, but we all need to have peace of mind that should this ever happen, our pets may be returned to us safely.
Microchip Your Pet to Ensure Your Pet is[...]
Microsoft Word document [79.7 KB]
If so, there are some potential hazards in doing so. Please read the attached two fliers from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration addressing specific concerns about using online veterinary pharmacies and the hazards that it can pose for pet and consumer alike.
FDA Online Med Info AWARE.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [346.0 KB]