COVID-19 and pets

When it comes to the novel coronavirus COVID-19, there is nothing more important than the health and welfare of every human being. As pet parents, we also think about how the pandemic may affect our pets.

Now more than ever, all of us at Petplan pet insurance are committed to keeping your furry friends healthy and giving you peace of mind.

Coronavirus resources for pet owners

Recently, the CDC and USDA announced the first confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) infection in two pet cats. These are the first pets in the United States to test positive for SARS-CoV-2. As a policyholder, should your pet be diagnosed with COVID-19, she/he is eligible for Petplan pet insurance coverage. The terms, conditions and limitations contained within your policy have not changed. 

Our team remains committed to serving you 24/7— even in these uncertain times.

To protect the health and well-being of our employees and the broader community, our entire workforce of over 200 employees is now working from home. We’ll continue to operate as we always have and you can still reach us by calling 866-467-3875, emailing or via live chat on our website. 

Our pets are excited to have us at home so please don't be surprised if you hear a bark or two. You can continue to send mail to our Pennsylvania office, but our response may be somewhat slower given the circumstances. Claims will continue to be processed as they normally would. We encourage you to submit your claims, paperwork and vet records electronically by logging into your account.

 

June 2, 2020

Federal health officials announced a dog has tested positive for the coronavirus for the first time in the United States. The German Shepherd, who lives with an owner who also tested positive for COVID-19, is expected to make a full recovery.

The same day, a cat in Minnesota became the first pet to test positive for COVID-19 in that state.

June 1, 2020

The North Carolina Pug that was initially thought to be positive for COVID-19 was not infected with coronavirus according to latest USDA report. 

May 8, 2020

A Spanish cat tested positive for the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The cat was the sixth feline to be detected with the disease globally. It belonged to a household in the Barcelona area where several family members had caught the virus. 

April 29, 2020

The CDC extends social distancing guidelines to pets. 

April 28, 2020

A pug in North Carolina has tested positive for coronavirus, which may be the first case for a dog in the U.S. The pug was part of a Duke University study in which a whole family was tested for the virus. The mother, father, son, and pug tested positive, while the daughter, another dog and a cat tested negative, according to NBC affiliate WRAL in Raleigh.

April 22, 2020

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) today announced the first confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) infection in two pet cats. These are the first pets in the United States to test positive for SARS-CoV-2.

April 8, 2020

A study published on the website of the journal Science found that cats can become infected with the new coronavirus but dogs appear not to be vulnerable, prompting the World Health Organization to say it will take a closer look at transmission of the virus between humans and pets.

April 5, 2020

USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City has been infected with COVID-19.  Samples from other large cats were obtained and tested after several lions and tigers at the zoo showed clinical signs of respiratory illness. Public health officials believe the animals became sick after exposure to an asymptomatic employee. All of the large cats are expected to recover and no other animals in the zoo are exhibiting signs of disease. The USDA and CDC are continuing to monitor the animals.

According to the American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVMA), “infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations continue to agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that, under natural conditions, pets spread COVID-19 to people.”

To date the CDC has not revised any reports of pets in the US becoming sick with COVID-19 and there is still zero evidence of pets transmitting the virus to humans. However, if you are ill with COVID-19 the AVMA recommends that you restrict contact with pets, just as you would with people, and when possible have someone else take care of your pets while you are sick. If you must take care of your pets yourself be sure to wear a facemask and wash your hands before and after interacting with pets.

March 31, 2020

The Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) reported that the pet cat of an individual confirmed to be ill with COVID-19 had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The cat is in quarantine and has exhibited no clinical signs of disease.  

March 25, 2020

As of March 25, The Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has conducted tests on 17 dogs and 8 cats from households with confirmed COVID-19 human cases. Only 2 dogs have tested positive.

March 19, 2020

The Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) in Belgium reported it was informed on March 18 by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Liege that COVID-19 was detected in vomit and stool samples from a cat collected by its owner who was infected with COVID-19. It has not been confirmed if the cat was sick with COVID-19 or if the samples were contaminated when collected by the owner. The condition of the cat reportedly improved 9 days after onset of clinical signs.

Currently it appears that dogs and cats are not infected easily with COVID-19 and there is no evidence that pets can transmit the virus to people or other pets.

March 18, 2020

A 2-year-old German Shepherd owned by an COVID-19-infected woman was quarantined after testing positive for the virus. The dog then tested negative on March 23. Another dog from the same home was also placed on lockdown but tested negative, according to Hong Kong’s animal welfare authority. Neither dog has shown signs of respiratory disease. Both dogs are in quarantine and are continuing to be monitored and tested.

February 27, 2020

A Pomeranian in Hong Kong was placed in quarantine after it tested a "weak positive" for the novel coronavirus, authorities said. The dog was handed over to the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) after its owner was infected with COVID-19.

Preliminary tests from the dog's oral, nasal and rectal samples tested a "weak positive" but the "dog does not have any relevant symptoms," the AFCD said in a statement.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website said 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."

UPDATE: After a period of quarantine the dog tested negative for COVID-19 and was sent home. Unfortunately, the dog died a few days after returning home, but medical sources stated that it was highly unlikely the dog died from COVID-19 and believed that the 17-year-old Pomeranian died from old age and underlying illnesses.

It was recently announced that two cats in New York have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. These are the first pets in the United States to test positive. Both cats had mild respiratory illness and are expected to make a full recovery.

According to CDC reports, SARS-CoV-2 infections have been reported in very few animals worldwide, mostly in those that had close contact with a person with COVID-19.

Read more about COVID-19 in cats on our blog.

 

Keeping pets entertained during quarantine can be a challenge for many parents, especially those juggling multiple responsibilities such as work and childcare. 

To help keep your pets from getting bored, consider the following tips: 

1. Walk your dog around the block while maintaining social distancing recommendations.

2. Rotate toys regularly or introduce a new toy to your pet's playtime.

3. Mix-up mealtime routines using a food puzzle or hide-and-seek.

4. Treat your dog to a stimulating snack, such as a toy filled with peanut butter.

5. Give your cat a new perspective by installing an indoor window perch.

6. Leave empty cardboard boxes around the house to entice your cat's natural instincts. 

Find more tips to keep pets entertained at our blog.

If you suddenly find yourself working from home due to coronavirus COVID-19, your pet may be excited to have you home but could cause distractions during conference calls if they are barking or displaying attention seeking behavior. It may take some adjusting to work from home with furry coworkers. Should you have a day full of meetings, just remember to T.R.E.A.T.

Train
Take a break and teach your dog a new trick - the mental stimulation will tire them out!

Reward
Filling toys or puzzles with a favorite snack will keep pets busy. Frozen goodies last even longer!

Exercise
Take a walk or play fetch before conference calls to encourage a quiet nap.

Affection
Belly rubs can keep pets calm even when unfamiliar voices fill the room.

Toys
Rotating your pet's squeak-free collection can help old toys feel new again

Discover more advice on working from home with pets at our blog.

COVID-19 Q&A with Petplan's Veterinary Team

You asked, our veterinary experts answered: COVID-19 FAQs for pets

We asked our members, “What are your pet parent concerns during COVID-19?”. Below, our on-staff veterinarians and vet techs answer the most frequently asked questions regarding the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

Be prepared. Follow recommended social distancing guidelines for pets. We highly recommend a Pet Readiness Kit. What does that include? Identify another member of your household or a friend or neighbor who is willing and able to care for your pet in the event you become ill. Make sure to have enough supplies available to care for your pet’s needs for 30 days, including food, medications, toys, and any other essential items your pet may need. Read more about how to prepare your pet plan on our blog.

Coronavirus has interrupted all our daily lives and pets are no exception! While most of us are social distancing and temporarily teleworking we have to be reminded to entertain our pets and keep them quiet at times. 

The current CDC recommendation is to avoid contact with animals if you are sick with COVID-19. If sick, it would be advisable to limit your contact with your pet. This is where your Pet Readiness Kit comes into play. Have another member of your household, or a friend or neighbor, who is willing and able to care for your pet do so. Make sure to have enough supplies available to care for your pet’s needs for 30 days, including food, medications, toys, and any other essential items your pet may need. If you are sick with COVID-19, do not take your pet to the vet and instead look into online telemedicine visits. 

Alternatively, boarding facilities are an option. Petplan policies offer a no-copay, no deductible boarding benefit which provides up to $1,000 in reimbursement if the insured pet needs to be boarded while the policyholder is hospitalized for more than 4 days to treat an illness, including COVID-19. We also reimburse up to $1,000 in online vet visits.

The current CDC recommendations say that if someone is sick with COVID-19, that person should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like they would around other people. 

Per CDC recommendations, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.

Until more is known, pets should follow social distancing guidelines, including prohibiting interaction with other people or animals outside your house; walking dogs on a leash with at least six feet of distance between you and other pets and owners; avoiding public places where people and dogs gather; and keeping cats indoors.

We are all questioning the things we normally do in regards to the coronavirus. As recommended by experts at the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and WHO (World Health Organization), social distancing is extremely important right now. For the health and safety of you and those around you, the best practice is to exercise caution and avoid unnecessary social interactions, including allowing people to approach you and your pets. Until more is known, pets should follow social distancing guidelines.

According to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) “Because your pet’s hair is porous and also fibrous, it is very unlikely that you would contract COVID-19 by petting or playing with your pet. However, because animals can spread other diseases to people and people can also spread diseases to animals, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands before and after interacting with animals; ensure your pet is kept well-groomed; and regularly clean your pet’s food and water bowls, bedding material, and toys.”

 

It is important to remember that social distancing is imperative to decrease the spread of COVID-19. Per CDC recommendations, pets should follow social distancing guidelines, including prohibiting interaction with other people or animals outside your house; walking dogs on a leash with at least six feet of distance between you and other pets and owners; avoiding public places where people and dogs gather; and keeping cats indoors.

There have been a handful of reports of house cats confirmed to have COVID-19, so while it is possible for cats to test positive for coronavirus, infections have been reported in very few animals worldwide, The situation is evolving and veterinarians and the experts at the CDC are closely monitoring all new developments. 

Some common respiratory infections in dogs and cats can affect both species, and this may leave us wondering what the risk is for pets at home. According to the CDC, they are aware of a small number of cats and dogs reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19. 

Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by the virus that causes COVID-19.

 

With all the worry about COVID-19, it’s natural for pet owners to be concerned about their furry family members. To date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. At this time, the CDC considers the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people to be low. However, since animals can carry germs that can make people sick, it’s always a good idea to practice proper health safety precautions with pets and other animals.

In the New York cases announced recently, a veterinarian tested the first cat after it showed mild respiratory signs.

We strongly encourage you to reach out to your veterinarian for guidance if you ever have concerns about your pet’s wellbeing or notice any changes to their health (including changes to their breathing or other vital signs, appetite or energy levels). It is preferable to have your vet examined in person, but we understand the special circumstances surrounding this unprecedented situation. Petplan policies also offer up to $1,000 in reimbursement for Telehealth fees with no co-pays or deductible for these services.

One of the best things you can do is to keep your pet on their normal schedule as much as possible to avoid any hiccups when your schedule returns to its usual pattern. Keeping meals, walks, and playtime on their normal schedule will help everyone in the home have a smooth transition back.