Veterinary Visits During COVID-19

As more and more businesses are temporarily closing due to the Coronavirus outbreak, many concerned pet owners are wondering if their local veterinary practices will be open.  According to an article on the Veterinary Information Network website, some—but not all—states are declaring veterinary clinics as “essential services” to remain open.

If you need to take your pet for veterinary care, be sure to call and check with your own veterinarian and/or local pet emergency and specialty clinics before bringing your animal in.

Some states are providing guidance to veterinarians on whether to stay open or not, and what types of services they should provide.  For example, here in California, the state veterinary medical association is asking members to use their best judgement based on what types of conditions their own communities are facing.

The AVMA suggests that veterinarians may want to defer certain kinds of non-critical care to conserve personal protective equipment like masks, gowns, and gloves.

Many veterinary practices that are staying open are limiting contact between pet owners and veterinary staff.  If your pet needs care, you may have to drop him or her off at the clinic door or in the parking lot and will not be permitted to go inside.

The best advice is to postpone any non-essential treatment.  If your pet needs urgent veterinary treatment, always call the practice or emergency clinic before you go.  Even if you are not allowed in the building, you should expect to receive phone calls from the veterinary team to update you on what’s going on with your pet.

Be sure to refer to the AVMA website for updates on the COVID-19 situation as it relates to veterinary care.  You can also check with your local state veterinary medical association for more specific information.


COVID-19 and Pets: Facts from the AVMA

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has created a fact sheet on Coronavirus for pet owners.

They address common concerns, including whether or not cats and dogs can become infected with the virus or pass it on.  As of this time, there is no evidence that pets can become sick from Coronavirus.

There have been reports about a couple of dogs contracting the virus, but the AVMA says that these pets have not shown signs of being ill with COVID-19 specifically.

Should you keep your pet’s veterinary appointments?  The AVMA says there is no reason to cancel appointments unless you yourself are sick and feel it is best to stay home.

They also advise pet owners to make plans for pet care in the event that you are unable to care for your pet at home.

You can download the full fact sheet HERE.  Be sure to check the AVMA website for any updates on Coronavirus and veterinary health.


Can Pets Get Coronavirus?

The new strain of coronavirus from Wuhan, China (2019-nCoV) is believed to be a virus that jumped from animals (possibly bats via another species) to humans.  While its contagiousness among people is a worldwide health concern, what about our pets?

Veterinarians at Texas A&M University report that there is currently no evidence that the new coronavirus affects dogs, cats, or other companion animals.  This means that as far as we know, we cannot transmit it to pets and pets cannot transmit it to us.

Other types of coronavirus can affect pets, and are often specific to a particular species, meaning that dogs cannot pass them to cats and vice versa.

For instance, infectious tracheobronchitis complex (ITB), commonly known as kennel cough, is a coronavirus in dogs.  Respiratory and intestinal coronaviruses are common in dogs, but they are often mild.

Dogs with coronavirus infection may have diarrhea, cough, or a runny nose.

In cats, coronavirus symptoms can be severe and may include diarrhea, fever, jaundice, weight loss, and fluid in the chest or abdomen, depending on the specific virus strain.  The often-fatal disease FIP (feline infectious peritonitis) is caused by a coronavirus.

Common-sense prevention measures are the best way to stop coronaviruses from spreading among dogs and cats.

Isolate any new pets brought into the household until they are cleared by a veterinarian. Wash your hands after coming in contact with pet feces.  Make sure you clean the litterbox daily, especially in a multi-cat household.

Can the new 2019-nCoV virus jump to pets?  The vets at Texas A&M say it’s possible, but not likely, and pet owners should concentrate on preventing the more common pet viruses in their furry friends.


Study: Risk Factors for Accidental Opioid Poisoning in Dogs

Accidental opioid poisoning is a danger for our companion animals, especially dogs, as well as for humans.  A new study analyzed data from the Animal Poison Control Center for the years 2006-2014 to identify risk factors for opioid poisoning in U.S. pet dogs.

Not surprisingly, there was a significant link between the number of accidental dog opioid poisoning calls and the county-level human opioid prescription rate.

The number of calls tended to be lower for older and heavier dogs.  Smaller, younger dogs were more likely to accidentally ingest opioids.  Neutered dogs were found to have lower poisoning call rates than intact dogs.

The call rate for accidental opioid poisoning in dogs peaked during 2008 and then began to decline.  The authors speculate that this may be related to an overall decline in the number of prescriptions being written.

The authors note that like human children, curious dogs are also at risk for accidental ingestion of harmful substances like prescription opioids and other drugs like marijuana.

Awareness of the characteristics that put dogs at risk can help to reduce the number of accidental poisonings.  While calls about opiates may be on the decline, the authors remind owners to be mindful of all human drugs and other toxicants, like pesticides and poisonous plants.


Dog Walking Safety Tips from the AVMA

Taking your dog for a walk is a great way for you and your pet to enjoy quality time together and get in some healthy exercise.  Seems like a simple activity, but the American Veterinary Medical Association reminds dog owners to keep their best friend’s safety and well-being in mind when going on walks.

Here are a few of their best dog walking safety tips, but be sure to click HERE for the full story.

  • Talk to your veterinarian before starting a new exercise program for your pet to ensure that he is healthy enough for added physical activity.
  • Make sure your dog is well-trained to walk on a leash and remember to obey all local leash laws and pick up after she does her business.
  • Allow your dog to take “sniff breaks” so that he can fully enjoy his outdoor adventure.

  • Avoid walks in the coldest part of the day in winter and the hottest part of the day in summer. Learn the signs of hypothermia and heatstroke in dogs and protect their paws from ice in the winter and hot pavement in the summer.
  • If your dog is new to walks, build up gradually to one or two 15-minute brisk walks per day, allowing time for cool down and recovery.
  • Monitor your dog for unusual tiredness, lameness, or difficulty breathing during walks. Talk to your veterinarian about possible joint or breathing problems, especially if you own a breed prone to conditions like hip dysplasia or brachycephaly.

Enjoy your walks together!