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Veterinarian clinics are following COVID-19 protocols too

Although it is extremely unlikely that dogs and cats will become infected with COVID-19, the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association has published a guide for veterinarians to follow when treating pets and helping to keep their owners and the medical staff safe from the spread of the virus.

Heartland Veterinary Hospital vet Aaron Rowland said in an email, “I thought it might be a good idea to reassure the citizens of Boyle County that we as a veterinary community are monitoring COVID-19’s ability to infect and /or be transmitted on our pets.”

According to KVMA, “The Centers for Disease Control say the disease is spread to humans through person-to-person contact. There have been no reports of pets spreading this novel coronavirus. However, two dogs (Hong Kong), one cat (Belgium) and a tiger (Bronx Zoo in New York) have tested positive for COVID-19, these cases are believed to be instances of human-to-animal transmission.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association reported that the tiger “became sick after exposure to an employee who was actively shedding the virus.”

Rowland said pet owners should be cautious, but not overly concerned about pets contracting the virus. He explained that epidemiologists have not been able to transfer the virus from humans to animals or animals to humans in their test subjects, thus far.

The CDC recommends that anyone who is sick with COVID-19 should stay away from their pets, just as they use social distancing with other people in their community. Also, if the pet owner is infected with the virus, it would be best if another member of the household care for the animal.

KVMA stated, “Avoid petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets, and wear a face mask.”

“We are following the direction of the governor and have limited our appointments to those that are sick, injured, emergencies, or have needs that if delayed would create harm to our pets,” Rowland said. However, his office can help pet owners who have concerns if they just call, he said.

Julie Jones at Town and Country Animal Clinic, like all other veterinary clinics, is following the protocols of social distancing with curbside service for clients and their pets.

Clients should always make an appointment and remain in their vehicle with their pet. The vet tech or staff will come out to the vehicle wearing a mask and gloves and will take down the medical concerns and have the veterinarian come outside to check on the animal. If a sick pet needs to stay or be treated, a member of the staff will take the pet inside the clinic. Clients will not be allowed to stay with their pet, Jones said.

“We’re doing what’s best for our clients and our patients,” Jone said. “It’s challenging, but not impossible.”