Coping with Coronavirus (COVID-19):
Resources to Help Your Clinic and Your Community

Latest News:

  • Reminder: Protect Pets from COVID-19 Virus As You Would Other Family Members

    Posted October 22, 2020 – With the news this week that a 16-year old cat in Pennsylvania tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 and unfortunately had to be euthanized due to respiratory illness, HSVMA reminds pet owners that cats and dogs should be protected from the virus similar to other family members.

    There are still only a relatively small number of dogs and cats (approximately 50) who have definitively tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, in the United States. All of the known companion animal cases have been in close contact with human family members who had COVID-19. There are now more than 8 million humans who have tested positive in the US. The USDA maintains a list of confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in animals in the United States here.

    “The best was to protect your companion animals is to treat them as you would any other family member,” said Dr. Gail Hansen, a public health veterinarian. “If a human family member is sick with COVID-19, limit their contact with other family members including pets. If a pet is sick after being exposed to a human with COVID-19, limit contact with the pet and seek the advice of a veterinarian.”

    The CDC guidelines state that there is still no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be extremely low.  However, it appears that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals. Cats, in particular, appear to be susceptible to the disease based on scientific studies and, as with humans, the disease appears to impact animals who are elderly or already ill more severely than younger animals, many of whom are asymptomatic or develop only mild symptoms.   

    Pets should be treated just as any other human family members. They should not interact with people outside the household. If you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected, restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would other people. Ask another member of your household to care for your pets while you are sick. Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or sleeping in the same bed. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.

    If your pet is sick, consult your veterinarian. The decision to test an animal, including companion animals, livestock, and wild or zoo animals, should be agreed upon using a One Health approach with the appropriate local and state public health and animal health officials.

    For more information about the virus in animals and recommendations for pet owners, the CDC has a helpful handout which can be downloaded here.

  • USDA Confirms Dog in Texas Tests Positive for SARS-CoV-2 - Posted July 8, 2020

    The USDA confirmed this week that a dog in Texas (Tarrant County) tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans. The dog has shown no signs of illness. There are still only a very small number of dogs and cats (nine total) who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the United States, after close contact with human family members who have COVID-19. There are now more than 3 million humans who have tested positive in the US. The USDA maintains a list of confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in animals in the United States here.

    The CDC guidelines state that there is still no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be extremely low.  However, it appears that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals in some rare situations.

    Pets should be treated just as any other human family members. They should not interact with people outside the household. If you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected, restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would other people. Ask another member of your household to care for your pets while you are sick. Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or sleeping in the same bed. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.

    The decision to test an animal, including companion animals, livestock, and wild or zoo animals, should be agreed upon using a One Health approach with the appropriate local and state public health and animal health officials. For more information about the virus in animals and recommendations for pet owners, the CDC has a helpful handout which can be downloaded here.

  • First Dog Tests Positive in US, Updated CDC Guidelines Stress Low Risk from Pets, Include Dog Park Guidance - Posted June 3, 2020
    The USDA has announced the first confirmed case of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) infection in a pet dog (German shepherd) in New York state. This is the first dog in the United States to test positive for SARS-CoV-2. The dog, who has an owner who tested positive, showed signs of respiratory illness and is expected to recover. The CDC guidelines continue to state that there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.  Worldwide, a small number of pets have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after contact with people with COVID-19. The CDC guidelines have been updated to incorporate dog parks, along with other companion animal situations. Because there is a small risk that people with COVID-19 could spread it to animals, the CDC recommends that dog owners consider avoiding dog parks or other places where large numbers of people and dogs gather. However, for those who choose to go to a dog park, the CDC provides guidelines for reducing the risk of pet owners or dogs getting infected. 

  • Post-Pandemic Pets: Tips for Transitioning Companion Animals as Shelter-in-Place Orders Are Lifted - Recorded May 27, 2020
    Presented by Dr. Susan Krebsbach and Dr. Nicholas Dodman
    Many families stepped forward to foster or adopt new pets as COVID-19 spread across the US and animal shelters were forced to close their doors. These families, along with all families who already had pets in their home, have now spent nearly two months continuously together with their new, or existing companions, and are preparing for the transition as they return to work, school and other activities. Dr. Susan Krebsbach and Dr. Nicholas Dodman discuss tips for dealing with potential separation anxiety issues as well as other transitional challenges, such as catching up on puppy socialization, changing dog walking schedules or switching cat feeding times. This presentation is FREE for all attendees. (Note that there is no RACE CE for this session.) Thanks to Maddie's Fund for sponsorship of this event. Watch the archived version HERE.
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  • HSVMA Helps Provide COVID-19 Relief to Veterinarians and Partner Organizations - May 21, 2020

    HSVMA has facilitated COVID-19 relief grants to several of our veterinary members and partners during this public health crisis. Thanks to a grant from the Kislak Family Foundation, HSVMA is partnering with the RAVS (Rural Area Veterinary Services) program to assist animals on the San Carlos Apache reservation in southeastern Arizona. RAVS has had to cancel field clinics this spring due to the pandemic so the grant is helping provide crucial supplies in the interim, particularly Seresto collars to help tackle the serious tick problem in San Carlos. In other areas of the country, HSVMA has partnered with the Humane Society of the United States to provides grants to The Street Dog Coalition (led by Dr. Jon Geller, HSVMA's Colorado State Representative) to help animals of the homeless; to Compassion Without Borders (led by Dr. Christi Camblor) to aid animals in Mexico and in California's Central Valley; and to Spay Arkansas (assisted by Medical Director Dr. Eric Jayne, HSVMA's Arkansas State Representative) to provide supplies and emergency medical care for animals in need in Arkansas. Read more about these efforts HERE.

  • HSVMA STATEMENT ON TESTING ANIMALS FOR SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) - Updated May 21, 2020

    In response to news that tests for pets for SARS-CoV-2 are being made available to veterinarians in the United States, HSVMA released a statement stressing that animal testing is not recommended at this time by the CDC, USDA and the veterinary community including HSVMA, AVMA, public health veterinarians and shelter veterinarians. Updated with guidance from USDA/APHIS on May 21, 2020.

  • HSVMA Statement on Fur-Farmed Animals and the Risk of Disease - Posted May 15, 2020
    HSVMA releases statement on severe animal welfare deficiencies inherent in the fur trade, including the ways in which the animals are cruelly trapped, housed and killed. The statement also addresses the the ways in which fur farms provide potential channels for diseases to propagate from one fur-bearing species to another as well as for viruses to potentially genetically recombine into forms potentially virulent to humans.

  • NEW CDC GUIDELINES FOR VETERINARY CLINICS - Updated May 12, 2020
    CDC has published new Interim Infection Prevention and Control Guidance for Veterinary Clinics during the COVID-19 Response. The guidance is for veterinarians and veterinary staff providing care to companion animals. The intent of this guidance is to facilitate preparedness and to ensure practices are in place in a veterinary clinical setting to help people and animals stay safe and healthy.

  • New! COVID-19 Spay/Neuter Assessment Checklist - Posted May 12, 2020
    Use this checklist as a guide to assess the factors that may impact your organization’s ability to reimplement non-emergency spay/neuter surgeries. 

  • How to Spot and Treat Team Burnout from COVID-19 - Posted May 9, 2020
    HSVMA Board President Dr. Barry Kipperman provides some tips on how to recognize veterinary team burnout and how to help team members cope. Dr. Kipperman is also president of MightyVet, an organization which was founded to help veterinary professionals deal with compassion fatigue, stress and depression.

  • COVID-19 Protocols for Street Medicine from the Street Dog Coalition - May 5, 2020
    The Street Dog Coalition, a Colorado-based group that works to provide care for animals of the homeless in partnership with veterinarians and other animal protection groups nationwide, has created protocols for providing safe and effective care during the COVID-19 public health crisis. The Street Dog Coalition was founded by Dr. Jon Geller, HSVMA's Colorado State Representative. Access the protocols HERE.

  • NEW! COVID-19 Spay/Neuter & Wellness Clinic Preparedness Guide - April 29, 2020
    This guide is a collaborative effort led by shelter and S/N professionals representing different aspects of veterinary clinic operations. It is intended to help clinic leadership formulate the safest and most reasonable approaches to operating S/N and wellness clinics, and maintain lifesaving functions.

  • HSVMA Statement - Pets and COVID-19 - April 28, 2020

    Confirmed cases of companion animals being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 are extremely rare worldwide. Experts with the CDC and the World Organisation for Animal Health suspect that these rare cases are human-to-animal transmission. According to the CDC, based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. Information about this virus and disease changes rapidly and there are still many questions that are unknown and cannot be adequately answered yet. The CDC guidelines recommend people follow the same social distancing and other guidelines with their pets as they would human family members.

  • Pets and COVID-19 Fears - Commentary by Dr. Scott Weese of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association - April 24, 2020

    One of the big concerns about news of SARS-CoV-2 infection in pets is owners freaking out about the risks to them and their animals. With sound, timely communication, the vast majority of pet owners will react quite reasonably. However, a small percentage may not. This leads to concerns that some people who are particularly freaked out about COVID-19 may abandon or surrender their pets, because they didn’t get the message that a logically-managed pet poses virtually no increased risk to its owner. Here’s a commentary that clinics can share with or use when talking to concerned owners about the risks from pets (click here for the pdf copy of the commentary circulated by the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association).

  • HSVMA STATEMENT REGARDING CATS TESTING POSITIVE FOR COVID-19, April 22, 2020
    In response to news that two cats tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in New York, HSVMA issues a statement putting the news in perspective and urging pet owners to continue to treat pets as other family members if anyone in the home becomes ill. 

  • HSVMA WEBINAR ON VETERINARY TELEMEDICINE - Archived - View Now
    This webinar provides an overview of veterinary telemedicine and uses real-world data and case examples to demonstrate how virtual care can expand care to underserved populations (during and after the pandemic); improve clinic productivity and efficiency; and help mitigate both the direct and indirect effects of the virus in a veterinary practice. View here.
  • Key Messages Regarding Companion Animals and COVID-19 from University of Wisconsin Shelter Medicine (April 4, 2020) - The University of Wisconsin Shelter Medicine Program has published a blog with key message points regarding companion animals and COVID-19. For more detail on each of these points below, read the full blog HERE.
    • Reserve intake at shelters to emergency cases only.
    • Human-to human contact remains the greatest risk to humans.
    • People should prepare a plan for who will care for their pet in the event they cannot care for their pet.  
    • Protocols for handling animals exposed to COVID-19. 

  • New Protocols for Intake of Companion Animals from Households with COVID-19: (April 3, 2020) The CDC, AVMA, the Association of Shelter Veterinarians and shelter medicine groups from University of Wisconsin, University of Florida and UC Davis have released new interim recommendations for the intake of companion animals from households where humans with COVID-19 are present. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19. These recommendations offer a conservative approach due to the unknown risks to companion animals. These recommendations acknowledge that there is currently limited available scientific data on which to base decisions, but also draw on routine guidance for zoonotic disease infection prevention and control in shelter settings. These recommendations will be updated as new information becomes available. You can view a webinar discussing these new recommendations with Dr. Sandra Newbury HERE and you can download a sample protocol for animal intake from University of Wisconsin HERE.

ADDRESSING THE IMPACT ON YOUR VETERINARY CLINIC/PRACTICE: 

As with other medical professionals, veterinary clinics are now in the position of figuring out how to take appropriate precautions in their clinics to adequately protect their staff, their clients and their patients from COVID-19. Some clinics are modifying their protocols to limit interaction between staff and clients while others are moving to telemedicine. Prioritizing the needs of patient care is an important focus as well. Here are some resources to help:

  • TRACKING STATE ORDERS REGARDING VETERINARY PROVIDERS - ESSENTIAL SERVICES AND TELEMEDICINE: HSVMA is tracking state emergency and shelter in place orders and whether they are specifically designating veterinary service providers as essential services as well as whether any emergency orders have been enacted pertaining to telemedicine and VCPR requirements. Our partners at the Humane Society of the United States are also tracking whether animal shelter and animal control services are also being included as essential services. You can view the online tracking document, which is updated daily, HERE

  • AVMA: The American Veterinary Medical Association is also posting timely information and important resources for veterinary clinics which addresses the disease risks, caring for pets and how to minimize risks in veterinary clinics. View the AVMA information webpage on COVID-19. 
  • STATE VMAS: HSVMA encourages veterinary professionals to touch base with their state veterinary medical association for guidance on what state laws and regulations are applicable in this situation as well as information updates from state public health and emergency management officials. Many state VMAs are providing FAQs, brochures, webinars and other resources to help members assess how to best handle the situation in their practice. A listing of COVID-19 resources available from many of the state VMAs is available via the Veterinary Medical Association Executives website. 

  • WEBINARLeadership from the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement (AAWA), the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), Shelter Medicine, and MightyVet hosted a webinar on Wednesday, March 25th, addressing COVID-19 and pets impacted by the crisis. Topics covered included understanding how COVID-19 is transmitted and how to handle a pet exposed to someone with COVID-19. You can view the webinar on Facebook HERE.

  • New FDA Guidance on Telemedicine (Posted March 24, 2020) FDA has issued new guidance, for immediate implementation, that temporarily suspends the enforcement of certain aspects of the federal veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) requirements. Those federal requirements apply to extralabel drug use, and the issuing of veterinary feed directives (VFD). The guidance acknowledges individual state VCPR requirements that may continue to exist, acknowledges current federal VCPR requirements related to in-person examinations or premises visits, and indicates suspension of requirements outlined in guidance are temporary measures during the COVID-19 outbreak. Here is a link to the AVMA's resource page on practicing telemedicine.

  • HSVMA Joins with HSUS, HSLF To Urge Governors to Declare Animal Services, Including Veterinary Services, as Essential

RESOURCES FOR SHELTER MEDICINE, SHELTERS AND RESCUE GROUPS:

Many HSVMA members work or volunteer with a shelter or rescue group or have clients who do so. The sheltering community is preparing for the possibility of more animals being surrendered due to issues related to the Coronavirus, including family members becoming too sick to care for their pets or experiencing serious financial hardship due to the outbreak. Here are some resources available to help prepare for this influx of animals.

DAILY DIGEST

  • The national animal welfare groups have come together to produce a Daily Digest of information, updates and resources to help the animal sheltering, rescue and veterinary communities during this critical time. You can subscribe here: https://mailchi.mp/animalwelfaredigest/subscribe

SHELTER KIT:

GUIDANCE FROM SHELTER MEDICINE EXPERTS:

ASSESSING THE RISK:

  • WSAVA: While COVID-19 is contagious for humans and, as of now, is understood to spread primarily from person to person, the WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) —an association representing more than 200,000 veterinarians— states that there is no evidence at this point that companion animals can transmit the virus. The association does, however, caution that this is a rapidly evolving situation and updates will be provided as they are received. People confirmed to have COVID-19 should avoid contact with other people as well as pets. Read the WSAVA Advisory Document on the New Coronavirus Virus 

  • CDC: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has similar guidance, recommending that people practice good hygiene as always after handling animals and that sick people restrict contact with pets.  Read the CDC webpage on Animals and the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

RESOURCES FOR PET OWNERS: 

This is an uncertain and stressful time for all, including pet owners. The most important thing that veterinary professionals can do is to assure pet owners that it is safe to interact with their companion animals as long as they (the humans) are healthy. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals can spread the disease to humans or other companion animals. 

Additionally, it is important to stress that pet owners should be prepared to take care of their pets in an emergency situation, similar to any disaster response. Having emergency supplies on hand for your pets is always a good idea, including ensuring that they have proper identification and any necessary prescriptions. Finally, for those pet owners who are having difficulty caring for their companion animals in this difficult time, it is always helpful to have lists of available resources, including foster networks and pet food banks, available to share.

Access the HSUS FAQ on how pets are being impacted by this crisis for ideas and resources to help pet owners.

HSUS/HSVMA Article on Keeping Pets Safe Around Cleaning Products

  • During the coronavirus pandemic, it's important to remember some ingredients in household cleaning products can be dangerous for cats and dogs. This article provides overview of hazardous ingredients, how to take precautions and what to do if you think a companion animal has been poisoned. View HERE.

Read the AVMA FAQ with information on how to care for pets, including precautions to take when handling companion animals.

HSVMA UPDATE:

Please contact us at [email protected] if you have any suggestions regarding other helpful information to share. Also please note that the HSVMA staff is now working remotely. However, any phone messages left on our office line at (530) 759-8106 will be responded to in a timely manner.

We hope all of our HSVMA members, their staff, clients and family members stay safe and healthy during this critical time.