Pets and COVID-19 FAQs

Pets and COVID-19 FAQs

woman with dog and cat

​Last updated on April 1st, 2020

These are stressful times. It can be hard to know what news to trust, especially when it comes to our beloved pets. We at Michelson Found Animals trust health experts to lead us through the COVID-19 crisis and we encourage you to do the same.


We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions from pet owners here, with answers from ourselves and the industry experts.

These are stressful times. It can be hard to know what news to trust, especially when it comes to our beloved pets. We at Michelson Found Animals trust health experts to lead us through the COVID-19 crisis and we encourage you to do the same.


We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions from pet owners here, with answers from ourselves and the industry experts.

Can my pet get COVID-19?

Like many facets of this novel coronavirus, knowing if pets can become ill with COVID19 is complicated and being actively investigated. According to ScienceNews.org, two dogs in Hong Kong and one cat in Belgium have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. These animals likely picked up the virus from their owners, all of whom had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. While the dogs showed no symptoms, the cat did show some signs of illness including respiratory issues, nausea and diarrhea. The cat recovered in nine days.


Jane Sykes, chief veterinary medical officer at the University of California, Davis, commented “what makes us actually believe that this cat was infected is that there was quite a lot of virus detected in the feces and vomit in multiple tests over several days.” She added that cats and dogs may be “dead-end” hosts for the virus, meaning they could become infected but don’t shed enough of the virus to transmit it to humans or other animals. “You’re more likely to get infected from another person,” says Sykes.

What if someone who is infected touches my pet? Can I get Coronavirus?

The answer is still unclear. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the American Veterinary Medical Association have both issued advisories saying there is no evidence that companion animals can spread the virus, we believe in practicing the best possible hygiene - especially if someone who is showing symptoms or has tested positive for the novel coronavirus has interacted with your pet recently.


There is the possibility of an infected individual touching your pet and leaving the virus on the fur. A pet parent may then inadvertently pick up those viruses (by petting your dog, then touching your face) and become infected. This is why it is keenly important to respect social distancing for yourself and your pet.


Best practice is to wash your hands before and after interacting with your pet, and maintain a regular and healthy bathing schedule. For more information on staying safe and healthy around animals, visit CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website.

Can I go to the dog park?

Maybe, but it’s not a good idea. State and city governments across the country have enacted varying degrees of quarantine and social distancing orders. First and foremost, find out what your own local orders are before leaving home. Even if dog parks are open in your community, we strongly recommend not visiting them at this time. Dog parks mean unleashed animals, which can mean direct exposure of your pet to other people and pets. Instead, we recommend taking your pet on a nice long walk, a hike (if allowed in your area), or tossing the ball in a private fenced yard as safer alternatives. The key to social distancing is controlling and avoiding close proximity to others.

Do I need to wash my pet with alcohol based cleaners?

No. Using harsh cleaning products on your pets is unnecessary and can cause serious harm to your pet‘s skin, and if ingested. Keep in mind that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that this time, there is no reason to think pets might be a source of infection for this new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. They do, however, recommend good pet hygiene. This includes washing your hands after interacting with or being around any pet (including your own), and practicing regular bathing for your pets using pet shampoo or mild soap and water. For more information on staying safe and healthy around animals, visit CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website.

How do I wash my pet appropriately?

Dr. Dorrie Black of San Francisco’s Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services recommends bathing your pets regularly with pet shampoo or mild soap and water. Consider your pet’s individual needs (such as any allergies or skin conditions) when selecting your products.

Are any veterinarians open? Are they considered essential?

Yes. Many veterinarians remain open across the nation with adjusted services (receiving helpful guidance from the American Veterinary Medical Association). In states under “Safer At Home” or other “shelter in place” style orders, most vets are reducing their services to essential/emergency services only - meaning non-urgent or elective services (such as grooming or nail trims) may not be available at the moment. Many offices are also offering no-touch vet visits where technicians come out to a client’s car to pick up a pet for their visit, or “telehealth” appointments over a video call.

What do I do if my pet needs medical attention?

Call your veterinarian. Many veterinarian offices are still open, with staff at the phones. Let them know your pet’s issue and they will direct you to the appropriate care. If your regular veterinarian office isn’t open and your pet is not experiencing a medical emergency, you can try vet telehealth options. If your pet is experiencing a medical emergency, we recommend calling your local Vet Emergency Hospital immediately.

What do I do with my pet if I get sick?

There are several easy steps each person can take to ensure their pets will be taken care of should the owner fall ill:

  • If a person becomes sick or symptomatic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend proactive separation from pets.
  • Identify a family member or friend who can care for pets if someone in the household becomes ill.
  • Have crates and a 30-day supply of food, litter and other supplies on hand for quick movement of pets.
  • Compile all vet records, ensuring they are up-to-date on vaccines as well in the event boarding becomes necessary.
  • Ensure all medications are documented with dosages and administering directions. Include the prescription form and contact information of your veterinarian.
  • Pets should have identification: collar with ID tag and microchip. Found Animals offers a free national microchip registry to all pet parents, no matter when or where they got their pet.

Are pets from a shelter safe to adopt?

Yes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no reason to think that any animals, including shelter pets, in the United States might be a source of COVID-19. The safest way to adopt a pet is to keep social distancing and best hygiene practices in mind when looking for a pet.


As a response to COVID-19, many shelters and rescue groups have shifted animals into foster homes. In most cases, the adoptable pets will be available to view on their organization’s website, or via adoption sites like PetFinder and Adopt-a-Pet. We suggest filling out applications via their preferred portal to learn about their adoption protocols at this time. Be sure you maintain safe distance from shelter staff/volunteers when meeting a new pet, and practice good hygiene as the pet enters and lives in their new forever home with you.

Can pets get COVID-19?

Like many facets of this novel coronavirus, knowing if pets can become ill with COVID19 is complicated and being actively investigated. According to ScienceNews.org, two dogs in Hong Kong and one cat in Belgium have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. These animals likely picked up the virus from their owners, all of whom had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. While the dogs showed no symptoms, the cat did show some signs of illness including respiratory issues, nausea and diarrhea. The cat recovered in nine days.


Jane Sykes, chief veterinary medical officer at the University of California, Davis, commented “what makes us actually believe that this cat was infected is that there was quite a lot of virus detected in the feces and vomit in multiple tests over several days.” She added that cats and dogs may be “dead-end” hosts for the virus, meaning they could become infected but don’t shed enough of the virus to transmit it to humans or other animals. “You’re more likely to get infected from another person,” says Sykes.

What if someone who is infected touches my pet? Can I get Coronavirus?

The answer is still unclear. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the American Veterinary Medical Association have both issued advisories saying there is no evidence that companion animals can spread the virus, we believe in practicing the best possible hygiene - especially if someone who is showing symptoms or has tested positive for the novel coronavirus has interacted with your pet recently.


There is the possibility of an infected individual touching your pet and leaving the virus on the fur. A pet parent may then inadvertently pick up those viruses (by petting your dog, then touching your face) and become infected. This is why it is keenly important to respect social distancing for yourself and your pet.


Best practice is to wash your hands before and after interacting with your pet, and maintain a regular and healthy bathing schedule. For more information on staying safe and healthy around animals, visit CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website.

Can I go to the dog park?

Maybe, but it’s not a good idea. State and city governments across the country have enacted varying degrees of quarantine and social distancing orders. First and foremost, find out what your own local orders are before leaving home. Even if dog parks are open in your community, we strongly recommend not visiting them at this time. Dog parks mean unleashed animals, which can mean direct exposure of your pet to other people and pets. Instead, we recommend taking your pet on a nice long walk, a hike (if allowed in your area), or tossing the ball in a private fenced yard as safer alternatives. The key to social distancing is controlling and avoiding close proximity to others.

Do I need to wash my pet with alcohol based cleaners?

No. Using harsh cleaning products on your pets is unnecessary and can cause serious harm to your pet‘s skin, and if ingested. ​Keep in mind that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that at this time, there is no reason to think pets might be a source of infection for this new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. They do, however, recommend good pet hygiene. This includes washing your hands after interacting with or being around any pet (including your own), and practicing regular bathing for your pets using pet shampoo or mild soap and water. For more information on staying safe and healthy around animals, visit CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website.

How do I wash my pet appropriately?

Dr. Dorrie Black of San Francisco’s Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services recommends bathing your pets regularly with pet shampoo or mild soap and water. Consider your pet’s individual needs (such as any allergies or skin conditions) when selecting your products.

Are any veterinarians open? Are they considered essential?

Yes. Many veterinarians remain open across the nation with adjusted services (receiving helpful guidance from the American Veterinary Medical Association). In states under “Safer At Home” or other “shelter in place” style orders, most vets are reducing their services to essential/emergency services only - meaning non-urgent or elective services (such as grooming or nail trims) may not be available at the moment. Many offices are also offering no-touch vet visits where technicians come out to a client’s car to pick up a pet for their visit, or “telehealth” appointments over a video call.

What do I do if my pet needs medical attention?

Call your veterinarian. Many veterinarian offices are still open, with staff at the phones. Let them know your pet’s issue and they will direct you to the appropriate care. If your regular veterinarian office isn’t open and your pet is not experiencing a medical emergency, you can try vet telehealth options. If your pet is experiencing a medical emergency, we recommend calling your local Vet Emergency Hospital immediately.

What do I do with my pet if I get sick?

There are several easy steps each person can take to ensure their pets will be taken care of should the owner fall ill:

  • If a person becomes sick or symptomatic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend proactive separation from pets.
  • Identify a family member or friend who can care for pets if someone in the household becomes ill.
  • Have crates and a 30-day supply of food, litter and other supplies on hand for quick movement of pets.
  • Compile all vet records, ensuring they are up-to-date on vaccines as well in the event boarding becomes necessary.
  • Ensure all medications are documented with dosages and administering directions. Include the prescription form and contact information of your veterinarian.
  • Pets should have identification: collar with ID tag and microchip. Found Animals offers a free national microchip registry to all pet parents, no matter when or where they got their pet.

Are pets from a shelter safe to adopt?

Yes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no reason to think that any animals, including shelter pets, in the United States might be a source of COVID-19. The safest way to adopt a pet is to keep social distancing and best hygiene practices in mind when looking for a pet.


As a response to COVID-19, many shelters and rescue groups have shifted animals into foster homes. In most cases, the adoptable pets will be available to view on their organization’s website, or via adoption sites like PetFinder and Adopt-a-Pet. We suggest filling out applications via their preferred portal to learn about their adoption protocols at this time. Be sure you maintain safe distance from shelter staff/volunteers when meeting a new pet, and practice good hygiene as the pet enters and lives in their new forever home with you.

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