SEATTLE — Margaret Larson asked Dr. Cary Waterhouse of Seattle's Lake Union Veterinary Clinic to give some health care advice for our pets during the era of COVID-19. Veterinarians are considered an essential service and remain open during Governor Jay Inslee's stay at home order.
Here's his advice:
Can your pet transmit COVID-19?
Waterhouse said that while at least one pet has carried the virus, it's highly unlikely. It is much more likely to catch COVID-19 from a human.
"There is no evidence that they can pass it to us," Waterhouse said.
Should you social distance from your pets?
Pets may be physical carriers of the virus, meaning it can linger on their fur similar to a doorknob or other surface.
"The CDC and the American Vet association are recommending that people who have COVID-19 or who are in homes with people that they handle their pets with gloves and minimize contact," Waterhouse said.
What happens when we're out walking? Should our dogs be social distancing from other pets?
"Any risk we can avoid by not bringing this virus into our home is a good idea," Waterhouse said.
What are vets doing to keep themselves and pets safe?
Waterhouse said his vet clinic has implemented curbside service. An animal handoff will occur outside the clinic, the pet is taken back for examination, and then the owner is given a virtual heads up that their pet is finished.
"We're minimizing contact, we're staying six feet apart, I don't think I've had any members of the general public in the clinic for a week and a half and it's going really well, people are really understanding."
Waterhouse stressed vet services should be used for pets needing immediate attention and not routine procedures like nail clipping and vaccinations.
How can we help out pets adjust now and later when we return to regular schedules?
"I think what we need to do is remember that this is temporary and we can't sort of create a habit, a sort of codependency," Waterhouse said.
He suggested giving your pets a time out to create the allusion of normalcy, making it easier to adjust when the stay home order is lifted.
"Let them be alone for a while," Waterhouse said.