Can your pet give you coronavirus?

Credit: Pixabay / MGN
Credit: Pixabay / MGN(KALB)
Published: Mar. 25, 2020 at 4:50 AM EDT
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Veterinary offices are taking extra precautions during the coronavirus pandemic to keep you, their staff and your pets safe.

Veterinarians are among those exempt from Vermont Gov. Phil Scott's stay-at-home order which goes into effect March 25 at 5 p.m.

The vets at the Burlington Emergency and Veterinary Specialists, or BEVS, are still seeing their usual patients, but they have some new policies for their own and the public's protection. They're asking owners to hand their pet off to a vet in the parking lot rather than walking inside the building.

Vets are handling the animals with gloves, but if the owner does have COVID-19, they'll also throw on a gown and goggles. While they're being as cautious as possible with clients, they tell us the vets still have to work in close contact.

"For placing IV catheters, someone has to be restraining the animals and somebody has to be placing the catheter. So, just by the nature of that process, which we do for most of our patients, they do have to get close," says Whitney Durivage with BEVS. "When there's a shift change, stand six-feet apart and just do rounds from a bigger distance."

While people are stuck at home, they're relying on their canine and cat companions for company. Vets at BEVS say information about the coronavirus and its impact on animals is changing every day.

Experts say if you're healthy, interact with your pet as you normally do. But out of an abundance of caution, they suggest owners who are sick, be especially cautious.

If you've tested positive for COVID-19, the vets say you should try to recruit a family member or friend to take care of the pet for the time being. If that isn't an option, they want you to wear gloves and wash your hands before and after touching your pet.

The veterinarians at BEVS are still seeing patients regardless of the owner's health.

"We haven't actually restricted anyone coming through the doors, so, still open for internal medicine, surgery, oncology, still have pets in rehab coming in through the treadmill, and dentistry. So, business as usual except with no client interaction right now," says Durivage.

The vets are placing clients whose owners test positive for coronavirus in an isolation ward away from other animals.