Note: UW-Madison will be publishing answers to questions about COVID-19 and the pandemic each week in a COVID questions column. If you have a question, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. This post was originally published here.
Q: It’s my understanding that pets can contract COVID-19. If I need someone to watch my pet for a week, what is the safest option? Is it best to board the pet in a facility, such as a veterinary clinic? Or have someone visit my pet in my home while I’m gone? Should that someone be vaccinated, or does that not matter?
A: While there are reports of pet dogs, cats and ferrets contracting SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID in humans) from close contact with humans who are ill with COVID-19, this has not been identified as a common problem in the past year. According to the CDC, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low but it is possible that people positive for COVID-19 can spread the virus to animals during close contact. The CDC suggests that pets should be treated like other family members – don’t let them interact with people outside of your household. If you choose to travel and need to board your pet, contact the boarding facility and ask about their COVID-19 screening policies for their employees. If you hire a pet sitter to come into your home, hiring someone who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is the safest option for you and your pet.
—Ruthanne Chun, associate dean for clinical affairs and director of UW Veterinary Care; clinical professor, oncology