Pet owners: If you get COVID-19, what’s your pet care plan?

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(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) November 9, 2020—During the pandemic, many Americans have become new pet owners, bringing home a dog or cat to keep them company and lift their spirits when stay-at-home orders were issued. With the country now in the midst of a mounting wave of infections, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is reminding pet owners to have a plan in place for caring for their pets in the event they contract coronavirus.

Dr. Douglas Kratt, President of the AVMA, recommends that, if pet owners become infected, they should identify another member of the household who will take care of feeding, walking, playing with and otherwise caring for the pet, and make sure they are willing and have everything they need to do so.

COVID-positive pet owners who don’t have someone else available within the household to care for their pets should wear a cloth face covering; should not share food with, kiss, or hug their pets; and need to wash their hands before and after any contact.

Pet owners should make sure they have identified a person or a facility that can care for their pets if they are hospitalized. If they are unsure of who can care for their pets in these circumstances, their veterinarian may have recommendations.

“While this is primarily a human disease, we have seen a small number of cases in pets,” said Dr. Douglas Kratt, president of the AVMA. “These cases in pets appear to be uncommon, and are mostly mild or asymptomatic, but they can still happen. To be safe, and until we know more about the virus, the AVMA recommends those ill with COVID-19 restrict contact with their pets, just as they would restrict contact with other people.”

If general, it’s a good idea to not let your pets interact with people or other animals outside the household, especially in places with community spread of COVID-19. Cats should be kept indoors, when possible, to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.

Animal owners without symptoms of COVID-19 should continue to practice good hygiene during interactions with their pets. This includes washing hands before and after such interactions and when handling animal food, waste, or supplies.

Dr. Kratt stressed that pet owners shouldn’t panic or consider abandoning their pets during the pandemic. Instead, he hopes pet owners plan for emergencies, understand the actual scope of the problem and take simple steps to protect themselves and their pets.

“Be cautious, be careful, but don't be fearful, Dr. Kratt said. “Our pets should be a source of comfort for us. Whether it's relaxing in front of the fish tank, brushing your cat, or teaching your dog a new trick, our pets can provide a lot of comfort right now in a very difficult time, and it's important that we continue to provide them with love and care as well.”

For more information on veterinary medicine and COVID-19, visit

For more information, or to set up an interview, contact Michael San Filippo, AVMA media relations manager, at 847-732-6194 (cell/text) or msanfilippoatavma [dot] org (msanfilippo[at]avma[dot]org).

About the AVMA

Serving more than 100,000 member veterinarians, the AVMA is the nation's leading representative of the veterinary profession, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of animals, humans and the environment. Founded in 1863 and with members in every U.S. state and territory and more than 60 countries, the AVMA is one of the largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. Informed by our members' unique scientific training and clinical knowledge, the AVMA supports the crucial work of veterinarians and advocates for policies that advance the practice of veterinary medicine and improve animal and human health.