As partners in your pet’s health, our goal is to ensure that pet parents are correctly informed. On Monday, our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Oscar Chavez, along with others on our vet team, sat down to answer some of your pressing questions regarding COVID-19 and its possible impact on your pets.
Q. Can dogs and cats get Coronavirus?
A. There is no evidence that pets can contract the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 or that they can transmit it to humans. Both dogs and cats always have had their own specific types of coronaviruses, but there is no cross-species interaction and these viruses are completely distinct from the novel coronavirus currently affecting humans, which causes the disease COVID-19.
Q. But the NY Post posted an article about the dog in Hong Kong.
A. A dog in Hong Kong did test a weak positive on nasal and rectal swabs and was put into quarantine on 2/28 after his owner was found to be positive for the virus. Some Hong Kong officials worried that this could be evidence of virus transmission to the dog and put the dog into quarantine. International and US vets do not believe the dog ever had COVID-19 as it never developed any clinical signs and he tested negative on blood tests. Additional tests and studies around the world have failed to show that pets can be infected and transmit the disease. The Hong Kong dog later died at home on March 16th, 2020 after being released from a two-week quarantine. The dog was 17 years old and it is more likely that it succumbed to old age and the stress of being quarantined than it is that it died of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in people.
Q. How do I take care of my pet if I’m in quarantine?
A. During this time, I’m using the analogy that we should think of our pets as we would of our favorite teddy bears. Sure, you could take your favorite teddy bear with you everywhere you go: to the grocery store, every car ride, planes, visit with friends, etc. But if you do and especially if your favorite teddy bear is really cute, chances are you’ll want to snuggle with him, show him off to others, etc. There’s a high likelihood that other people may want to touch your favorite teddy bear, snuggle with it, or pick it up.
All indications show that our pets cannot contract and transmit the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. However, that doesn’t mean that the virus cannot live temporarily on their fur/face/etc. For all these reasons, just like your favorite teddy bear, please leave your pets at home where they are safe and separated from other people because any interaction between your pets and others starts to break down the social distancing we are trying to achieve.
Q. Do I need to take measures to protect my pet?
Q. Should pet parents take their dogs for walks?
A. Yes, if local and state ordinances allow! Social distancing does not mean total isolation or even total quarantine. You may walk your dog alone or with a family member, you already live with. You should only walk dogs from the same household, and you should avoid letting your dog interact with other dogs or people, for now. Not because there is a risk to them specifically, but rather to adhere to social distancing.
Q. Should pets be groomed or cleaned more often?
A. Not necessarily. If there is no known novel coronavirus exposure in the household and no one in the home is sick, there is no need to adjust your regular grooming habits, unless you ordinarily have your dog groomed by a professional groomer. In the spirit of social distancing and for your own (human) protection, I’d recommend bathing your dog at home only during this time. This will help them avoid other peoples’ hands, faces, and possible coughs and sneezes which they could bring home to you (think about the favorite teddy bear example).
Q. Can I take my dog to the dog park or dog beach?
A. For now, no, it is not recommended but only because dog parks and beaches are also places where there are other people. Even if you keep your distance from other people, your dog could potentially serve as a social and physical bridge to them or their dogs.
Q. Should we think about making sure our dogs are socialized during this time, or just keep them at home?
A. Socialization is critical, not just for people, but for our pets as well. Estimates suggest that the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has a Ro of 2 to 5, the average is 3. “Ro” is a measure of how contagious the virus is. This means that on average, a person infected with the virus will infect about 3 other people.
Take the same precautions we are taking for ourselves right now. Follow are local and state ordinances. Socialize only with people and pets that you already live with or have chosen to remain in close contact with during this time. Ideally, these selected individuals and their dogs would be no more than 2-3 other humans and each of them should be following the exact same strict social isolation that you are.
Q. What about vet visits? Can I take my dog to the vet right now?
A. Like the human healthcare system right now, veterinary care is classified as an essential service in California and all related services (including food and JustFoodForDogs locations) are being asked to remain open. Veterinary hospitals are is being challenged by increased traffic and concerned pet parents. Veterinarians are also being affected by this crisis and some may need to stay home due to underlying conditions or because they themselves have become sick. This is causing some vet hospitals to be short-staffed and many have adopted biosecurity protocols to limit social interactions with humans.
If you are uncertain if you should take your pet to the vet, call them beforehand and describe your pets’ condition to see if they recommend you going in. Be sure to ask if there are any special policies related to the novel coronavirus outbreak as some vet clinics remain open but may have closed their reception areas to avoid crowding.
Q. Although pets cannot become sick from COVID-19, could they serve as a conduit of infection between people?
A. Yes, it is true they can carry it on their fur if an infected person coughs, sneezes, or snuggles with their pet. They can serve as a bridge. This is called “fomite” in science. We completely share your concern about abandoned pets, but people look at us for truthful and real information. We feel it would be irresponsible not to let people know this. The important thing is to stay calm and get the message right. Here’s the link to the University of Illinois.
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If you need assistance, our Customer Service Team will be happy to answer any questions and assist you with your purchase at (949) 722-3647.
With the COVID-19 situation being so fluid, we have made the decision to offer will-call pickup or free delivery only, at our kitchen for your convenience until further notice. We are still open and here to serve you.
To place an order, call us anytime during kitchen hours. When you call, simply let us know if you’d like us to bring your will-call order out to you, or if you’d like us to deliver it to your home. In either case, we are following a “no contact” protocol for the safety of you and others at this challenging time:
• We will walk out to your car and place the order in the trunk or back seat when you call us from outside the kitchen.
• We will set the order outside ready for your pick up when you call us from outside the kitchen.
• Or, we will leave the order outside your door on delivery for orders over $50.
Please let us know how you would like us to handle your order for you when you call.
If you are local to one of our kitchens or pantries, we would like to extend free same-day delivery on orders over $50 within each location’s current delivery radius.
Thank you and please keep yourself, and your pet family members, safe and healthy.