PULASKI BARRACKS, Germany -- Due to the recent outbreak of COVID-19, worried pet owners across Europe have contacted their local veterinary treatment facilities with questions and concerns in regard to their pets. Public Health Command Europe officials would like to address some frequently asked questions in order to dispel misinformation.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause cold-like illnesses in people, while others cause illness in certain types of animals.
“A lot of pet owners are worried that their pet can get the virus or transmit it to humans,” explained Maj. Renee Krebs, Deputy Director of Veterinary Medical Center Europe. “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 or that they might be a source of infection in Europe or the United States.”
However, animals can spread other diseases to people and people can also spread diseases to animals. Therefore, it is a good idea to always wash your hands before and after interacting with animals.
“Pet owners should under no circumstance abandon their pets,” said Krebs. “There’s no evidence that pets pose a risk for spreading the virus.”
Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.
When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet.
“Not everyone has the luxury of having someone to watch their pet for them, so use common sense,” stated Krebs. “Limit the contact with your pet and avoid getting kissed or licked and do not share food with your pet. Also, wash your hands thoroughly before and after touching your pet.”
In case pet owners are asked to be quarantined, it is recommended to have an emergency kit prepared with at least two weeks’ worth of your pet’s food and any needed medications.
“Be sure to check the emergency kit from time to time, explained Krebs. “Pet food can spoil or you might not have switched over to your pet’s newest medication. Things change, so make sure your kit is up to date.”
Veterinary Treatment Facilities across Europe are adjusting to the precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, services for pets may be reduced to comply with social distancing and necessary screening before entering the facilities.
However, the VTF staff will do their best to ensure health certificate appointments will still be seen.
“Because things are changing every day, I highly recommend to get in touch with your VTF via phone or Facebook before your appointment to check if their hours have changed,” suggested Krebs. “We understand that travel bans are being imposed and your health certificate might not be valid anymore. In this case, clients will be able to reschedule for a reissued health certificate at no cost once travel bans are lifted.”
For the most current information, please follow your local Veterinary Treatment Facility on Facebook or visit www.cdc.gov.