COVID-19 and pets

Yes, local vets and pet stores are open, and no, there’s no evidence that your pet can get coronavirus

by Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (March 25, 2020) – As Lansing citizens are learning how best to live in accordance with Governor Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, many have been spending more time with their family, including pets. While the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated there is no evidence that pets can transmit COVID-19, there are still practices that you can implement to keep you and others safe with pets in the house.

First, are the local vets open?

Yes, most local vets and animal clinics are still open during this time. Call your vet to check what special COVID-19 measures they’ve implemented to keep you, your pet, and their staff safe. Most offices (including those listed below) are operating on an appointment-only basis where pet owners must call ahead and schedule a time to drop off their pet for its medical need. Pet owners are asked to stay in their cars when they come to drop off their pets, and a staff member will come out to help. Payment is most often conducted over the phone to limit human contact as much as possible. Generally, only staff are allowed inside buildings, though end-of-life services may qualify for an exception to this rule.

Below is the hourly information for some nearby animal clinics:

Lansing Animal Hospital
Hours: 9-11:30 a.m. and 2–4:30 p.m. on weekdays, with 8 a.m.–11:30 a.m. availability on Saturdays. Closed Sundays.
Appointment only.
Address: 17916 Torrence Ave.
Phone: 708-474-0021

Lansing Beautification
Ridge Animal Clinic, 3667 Ridge Rd. (Photo provided)

Ridge Animal Clinic
Hours: 8 a.m.–2 p.m. on weekdays, with Saturday hours as needed. Closed Sundays.
Appointment only.
Address: 3667 Ridge Rd.
Phone: 708-474-3100

North Central Veterinary Emergency Center
Hours: Open 24 hours, seven days per week.
From their website: “If your cat or dog is experiencing a veterinary emergency, call us immediately. Try your best to remain calm so you can properly tend to his or her needs as instructed by our professional staff. We will direct you how to get to our facility and what to expect upon arrival.”
Address: 2427 Ridge Road, Highland, IN.
Phone: 219-881-1600

How about pet supply stores?

Although it’s always best to call ahead to get the most up-to-date information about your local pet store, most are open during this time.

shop local Lansing
Ted’s Pet and Feed Store, 17950 Burnham Ave.

Ted’s Pet and Feed Store at 17950 Burnham Ave. is open 10 a.m.–6 p.m. for phone orders only. After placing an order on the phone, just call when you’re in the parking lot to let Ted’s know you’re ready to pick up your products. Phone: 708-474-3000.

Petco at 460 River Oaks W in Calumet City is also open from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. for in-store purchases and curbside pickup orders. Once you place a curbside pickup order, check your email for more information and instructions. To learn more, visit www.petco.com or call your Calumet City Petco at 708-868-1442.

Are you sure my pet can’t get COVID-19?

According to both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the WHO, there is no evidence that your pet can become sick with COVID-19. According to veterinary services corporation IDEXX Laboratories, thousands of cats and dogs have been tested for coronavirus with no positive results.

Dr. Kerri Katsalis at Ridge Animal Clinic says, “Currently, COVID-19 is not thought to make our furry patients ill. There is no current evidence that domestic animals can develop disease from this virus.”

Does social distancing apply to my pet?

In many ways, yes. Experts recommend using the same social distancing guidelines for humans and animals. This doesn’t mean you should always be six feet away from your pet. Rather, if you bring your pet outside, leave six feet of space between it and other people.

Can my pet carry COVID-19 germs and pass them to me or others?

Dr. Katsalis says, “If [an] individual is sick, it is advised to not pet, hug, or cuddle their pets. However, because your pet’s hair is porous and also fibrous, it is very unlikely or will make it harder to contract COVID-19 through simple touch by petting or playing with your pet. Therefore, 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, water bowls, bedding material, toys, leashes, and collars as a standard practice of care.”

If I get sick, what should I do with my pet?

The CDC recommends that if you’re sick with COVID-19—or suspect that you may be—you should isolate yourself as much as possible from your pet, taking special care to avoid snuggling with, getting kissed or licked by, and sharing food with your pet.

If your circumstance allows, have a friend, family member, or boarding service take care of your pet while you’re sick. Otherwise, wash your hands frequently when feeding or touching your pet and try to limit contact as much as possible.

If your pet has a medical need while you’re sick, Dr. Katsalis says, “Please stay at home, call your veterinarian before having your pet seen for any health conditions. Practice social distancing. You and your veterinarian can discuss the safest approach for all concerned whether there’s a need for immediate medical intervention or not.”

Should I do anything to prepare?

You might consider contacting someone to have a back-up home lined up for your pet just in case you get sick. It’s advisable to have a reasonable supply of pet food and other supplies at home so you can limit the times you’ll need to visit the store. However, under the current orders from the Governor, you can leave your home to purchase pet and other supplies; it is not necessary to hoard pet food and supplies, as other pet owners will be in need of these items as well.

Can I still go outside with my pet?

Under the Governor’s order, everyone is still able to walk outside as long as they practice social distancing and don’t gather in large groups, meaning you can still walk or play with your pet outside. Additionally, many pets, especially dogs, are sensitive to routines and with your lifestyle likely changing in many other ways, it may be a good idea to keep your walking routine as stable as you can. If your pet is bored, you may also consider teaching it a new trick or buying a special toy for it to play with.

Can I still go to parks with my pet, especially the Paws ‘n Play Dog Park?

Paws ‘n Play Dog Park will be closed until April 7. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Unfortunately not. As per the Lan-Oak Park District: “The Lan-Oak Park District will comply with [Governor Pritzker’s] order by closing all park district facilities, parks, playgrounds, and programs through April 7, 2020. This park closure will include the Paws ‘n Play Dog Park as it is now included in the order.”

For questions on pet health and best practices during this time, visit www.cdc.gov, www.who.int, or www.avma.org. You can also call your local vet or animal clinic with questions.

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