Keeping pets safe during COVID-19 outbreak
COLUMBIA - The coronavirus pandemic is forcing veterinarians to change their daily operations.
Dr. Leah Cohn works at the small animal hospital at MU's veterinary health center. She said the center is limiting what cases vets are treating right now in an effort to conserve supplies.
When veterinarians work on animals, Cohn said they use the same anesthetic drugs and pain relievers that doctors use to treat people with COVID-19 who are on ventilators. Veterinarians also use personal protective equipment like masks, gloves and gowns that are in short supply right now.
If pet owners bring their animals to the vet's office, Cohn says they can expect more changes there, too. At the small animal hospital, owners have to stay in their car while workers come to the parking lot to get the animals. Cohn said this is in order to reduce everyone's possible exposure to the coronavirus.
However, Cohn said people don't need to change many other routines with their pets. She said taking pets on walks is okay as long as people practice social distancing. She said owners don't need to worry about their pet catching COVID-19.
"There's very little reason to worry about your pets catching this virus," she said. "This outbreak now has infected over a million people in the world, and there has been no upswing in respiratory disease noticed in dogs or cats or any other animal for that matter."
Worldwide, Cohn said only five animals—two dogs, two cats and one tiger—have tested positive for the virus.
However, Cohn said if someone does have coronavirus, they should take extra precautions and not have close interactions with their pet. Someone else should take care of the animal during that time.
She also said doctors don't believe dogs and cats are playing a role in the spread of the virus.
"There's absolutely no evidence at all that dogs or cats could be infected and then pass that infection on to a human being," Cohn said.
Cohn said during the outbreak, people should try to keep their pets out of circumstances where they could get hurt because of the extra difficulty associated with getting animals to the vet.