With relentless updates about the coronavirus dominating news sources, it’s impossible not to worry about the safety and wellbeing of our loved ones and our communities. As new cases are detected and published each day, many Americans are also increasingly concerned about the welfare of their furry family members.

While rumors of pets abandoned due to coronavirus fears are making the rounds on social media, it’s important to turn to trustworthy sources for information. Most notably, regarding pets and COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states the following: “While this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person in China. There is no reason to think that any animals including pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus. To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19. However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals.”

But what about the story of a dog who apparently tested positive for coronavirus in China, according to Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department? Keep in mind that any surface, including a dog’s fur, can potentially be a fomite (i.e. a contaminated object, such as clothes, utensils, door handles, etc). This doesn’t mean the animal in question was infected, however.

Because of this, “you should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick,” recommends the CDC.

All of this shows there’s absolutely no reason to abandon an animal over coronavirus fears, and likewise, cats and dogs don’t need to wear protective masks as they don’t get infected.

However, in the event that you’re being asked to stay at home for two weeks, whether your employer recommends it or in the event of a mandated self-quarantine, be sure to include your pets in your preparedness plan, just like you would for any other emergency. This involves having enough pet food and medicine on hand, and a plan in place should you be unable to leave your home for a certain amount of time. Now is a good time to review Marin Humane’s emergency preparedness information. If you have any specific questions about coronavirus and your pet’s health, please contact your veterinarian.

At Marin Humane, we’re here for our community. We’re working closely with other county agencies to monitor the situation, and we’ll be ready to assist should the need arise. But most of all, you, reading this right now, are in our thoughts. During challenging times like these, we won’t hesitate to support the most vulnerable members of our community—including, of course, their beloved companions. As always, Marin Humane can provide free, emergency boarding to pets of Marin residents who are hospitalized. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out and give us a call at 415.883.4621.