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Include pets in home biosecurity measures, say P.E.I. veterinarians

Veterinarians in Nova Scotia are asking the province to ensure their clinics can stay open during the COVID-19 outbreak. Stock Image
P.E.I. veterinarians are reminding Islanders to continue to take care of their pets' well-being amid the coronavirus pandemic. - SaltWire file photo


It’s not exactly business as usual for veterinarians during the pandemic.

Registrar of the P.E.I. Veterinary Medicine Association, veterinarian Gary Morgan. - Submitted photo
Registrar of the P.E.I. Veterinary Medicine Association, veterinarian Gary Morgan. - Submitted photo

Even though their patients aren’t contagious, clinics are taking measures to control the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19 strain).

Veterinary services have been declared essential, however most practices have limited care to what’s essential to animal well-being. Other services will be postponed.

“They’re facing the same challenges that everybody is – trying to provide service and keep the doors open,” said Gary Morgan, registrar of the P.E.I. Veterinary Medical Association.

“If you’re worried about a health issue with your pet, you should contact your veterinarian,” said Morgan. “If it’s felt that the situation needs to be attended to, then proper steps will be made to make sure that happens.”

Morgan calls the process “telephone triage”.

Some vets have started a curb-side pickup of animals at their clinics, to minimize the contact between the human client and the clinic staff.

As for large animal services, in particular herd health checkups or immunizations, Morgan said it will be up to the individual veterinarian.

“The principle that we’ve pushed forward (is) that if you feel that delaying a particular service would have a negative impact on the health of the herd, then you should continue to provide the service," he said.

"If you feel that you can defer the service to a safer time, then we would certainly recommend that that be the case. In food animal production, of course the most important thing is the maintenance of a food supply base.”


INFORMATION FOR PET OWNERS

If you are not ill with COVID-19:

  • Continue to interact with pets as normal including walking, feeding and playing. 
  • Practice good hygiene such as washing your hands before and after interacting with pets. 
  • Ensure pets are well-groomed. 
  • Regularly clean food and water bowls, bedding material and toys.

If you are ill with COVID-19:

  • Limit contact with animals. 
  • Have another member of the household take care of walking, feeding and playing.  
  • For people with service animals, or sole caretakers, wear a face mask. 
  • Wash your hands before and after any contact with pets.

Importing animals:

  • All animals entering Canada must meet import requirements from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. 
  • There are currently no restrictions related to COVID-19, but importers, rescue organizations and adoptive families should consider limiting or postponing importing animals.

Veterinarian associations across Canada are working hard to provide clinics with current information on coronavirus, said Morgan.

Anyone showing signs of illness, should refrain from close contact with pets as a precaution.

Otherwise, Morgan said to treat pets like any other surface in your home.

Pet owners should wash their hands when they return home before greeting their fur family.

“There is concern that the virus could travel on an animal’s hair or fur and therefore carry it from person to person. There is no evidence, to my knowledge, yet of animals being involved in the transmission of this disease, (for example) a sick dog passing it to a person.”

Pet owners should wash their hands when they return home before greeting their fur family. - SaltWire file photo
Pet owners should wash their hands when they return home before greeting their fur family. - SaltWire file photo


Q&A: Can COVID-19 be transmitted from humans to dogs and dogs to humans?

There is currently no evidence that dogs can spread the infection. 

On Feb. 28, 2020, a dog in Hong Kong tested positive for COVID-19. It is suspected to be a case of human to animal transmission from infected owner to their own pet. The dog did not show any clinical signs of illness and the virus was no longer detectable on the tests within five days. 

Since this one incident, no further dogs have had positive tests for COVID-19. 

No cases of cats or other domestic animals have been detected with COVID-19.

Are current canine coronavirus vaccines protective against COVID-19?

he canine coronavirus vaccine for dogs is a different strain than the current virus affecting people. 

No specific vaccine for this strain (COVID-19) is available yet. 


INFORMATION FOR LIVESTOCK OWNERS

To date, there are no reports of livestock being infected by COVID-19 anywhere. 

However, livestock producers should follow normal biosecurity measures as always. This includes limiting visitors or workers who may have travelled to, or been in contact with, someone from an affected area. 

For more information regarding on-farm disease prevention, producers are encouraged to consult:

These recommendations will be updated as more information becomes available.


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