How do I include my pets in my family’s emergency planning for COVID-19?

Emily McCobb, V00, VG02, director of Cummings School’s Shelter Medicine Program, responds

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there is no evidence that dogs and cats can spread the virus that causes COVID-19. But the CDC does recommend that people with symptoms restrict contact with their pets just like they do with people. Specific guidance for infected individuals can be found on the CDC website.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has created a helpful toolkit on how to include pets in preparedness planning for house fires, natural disasters, and other emergencies.

I recommend reviewing the AVMA’s pet-evacuation kit checklist for a list of items to have on hand—and stocking up on two weeks’ worth of food, water, medicines, flea and tick prevention, kitty litter (if needed), and cleaning supplies for your pet.

Be sure to also consider who would take care of your pet should you become sick, need to be hospitalized, or be delayed while traveling because of COVID-19, and to review your contingency plans with that person. Check in routinely with elderly neighbors or family members who live alone with their pets to make sure they are all healthy and safe.

This is also a good time to ensure that pets’ routine vaccinations are up to date, both for their general health and in the event they need to be boarded.

For more guidance on COVID-19, see the full Tufts University COVID-19 update, Cummings School’s guidelines related to bringing animals to hospitals and clinics, the CDC website, the AVMA website, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health website.

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