Pets and their people-together safe at home with COVID-19

But for some people, especially those who live alone, pets may provide much needed companionship and relief of stress and anxiety during this unsettling time.

girl snuggling with cat

While sheltering at home during this COVID-19 outbreak, many people are spending more time than usual with their pets. If you spend much time on social media you’ve seen the memes of pets who miss the privacy they usually enjoy when people are away.

But for some people, especially those who live alone, pets may provide much needed companionship and relief of stress and anxiety during this unsettling time.

To date, there is no evidence that pets can spread the virus (coronavirus) to people.


When animals are more than pets

Dogs have been used to help visually impaired persons for hundreds of years, but now they and other animals assist people with other types of disabilities, as well as provide companionship and comfort.

Besides “guide dogs” who assist blind persons, other categories of animal helpers include

emotional support animals

An emotional support animal (ESA) is a companion animal which provides therapeutic benefit, such as alleviating or mitigating some symptoms of the disability, to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability. Emotional support animals are typically dogs and cats, but may include other animals.

cat lying on the ground next to green shrubs

service animals

A service animal is any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.

Psychiatrist Dr. Vania Manipod, blogger at freud and fashion  explains how these terms apply to psychiatric illnesses in her blog post here-

Therapy Pet-Friendly Guide

In the United States, there is no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets, livestock, or wildlife, might be a source of COVID-19 infection at this time. However, because all animals can carry germs that can make people sick, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals.

woman on a horse
a rare experience for me-riding a horse

The Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA, “requires State and local government agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations (covered entities) that provide goods or services to the public to make “reasonable modifications” in their policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to accommodate people with disabilities. The service animal rules fall under this general principle.”

Other countries may have different laws so if you plan to travel abroad with your animal assistant, you should check the laws for your destination prior to arrival to avoid any problems with your animal’s entry or departure.

Remember that animal assistants are not just pets, they are working; so we should not distract them or interfere with their duties when we encounter them, as this report warns.

Guide dog handlers are urging the public to resist the temptation to pat the working animals regardless of how cute they are.

The Veteran’s Health Administration uses horses to help veterans deal with PTSD.

I know from my own experience with rescued Arabians, who as a breed have a reputation of being easily excited, that they help me be calm and unhurried around them. It is almost as if they provide me with biofeedback and reflect back to me what my own degree of tension might be.

Dr. Hans Duvefelt

Read more at his blog “A Country Doctor Writes”

If Nothing Else Works, Try a Horse

And for some veterans, “living with wolves” saves their lives.

If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed), you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people. Although there have been no reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. This can help ensure both you and your animals stay healthy.


For more information about pets and COVID-19, talk to your pet’s veterinarian and refer to the CDC website for recommendations.

If You Have Animals

These two stayed with us while their owner was on a trip. We thought we were taking care of them, but we received just as much as we gave.

And a resource from the American Medical Veterinary Association

SARS-CoV-2 in animals, including pets

exploring the HEART of health with pets

Dr Aletha

Author: Aletha Cress Oglesby, M.D.

As a family physician, I explore the HEART of HEALTH in my work, recreation, community, and through writing. My blog, Watercress Words, informs and inspires us to live in health. I believe we can turn our health challenges into healthy opportunities. When we do, we can share the HEART of health with our families, communities, and the world. Come explore and share with me.

10 thoughts on “Pets and their people-together safe at home with COVID-19”

  1. I loved this post. I’m just so nervous about potentially getting my cat sick if I come down with COVID. Does anybody have any tips for how to socially distance with a pet? I feel like I spend all my time sticking my face into hers!


  2. Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Please stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn


  3. My dogs keep me sane. I have always said I would rather be home with my dogs. It is true that I think they miss the days when it was just me and them. My kids have a tendency to show them a little too much affection, lol.


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