In the age of COVID-19, all of us are worried about our families including our pets. Every family should have a “disaster plan” so that we can be prepared for anything that may happen. We should all have a supply of food, bedding and toys ready, so that should an emergency arise, our family and friends will know where our pets’ necessities are located. Below is a summary of guidance from the Centers for Disease Control working with the American Veterinary Medical Association on COVID patients and persons under investigation (PUIs) because of exposure to the virus.
Summary of recommendations by CDC/AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association)
- Pets of COVID-19 patients, PUIs are best kept at home for the sake of the people (bond with pets and comfort from their presence) and the animals (less stress, less chance of animal falling ill. COVID-19 patients should limit contact with pets because of evidence that a tiny number of animals have cultured positive for this virus (5-6 worldwide with intensive interest and investigation by the veterinary medical community). Evidence STRONGLY SUGGESTS people can give pets COVID, pets CANNOT GIVE PEOPLE COVID. Other family members in household should do pet care, remembering basic hygiene around pets, frequent hand-washing and food safety.
- If your family cannot look after pet, the next best practice is pet sheltering with family, friends, neighbors or Good Samaritans.
- In the event the far more preferable alternatives listed above are not possible the LEAST BEST choice is to shelter the animal in one of the shelters we have set up with our partners in the Cook County Shelter Community. They are Anti-Cruelty Society (ACS), Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) and the South Suburban Humane Society. We also have shelters who have offered space. CACC and ACS will cover Chicago and SSHS will cover Cook County.
- These shelters will follow CDC/AVMA guidance as it stands and as it evolves in a fluid situation
Below are some frequently asked questions gathered by Illinois Department of Agriculture for Cook County residents who prefer to explore these issues more deeply:
Pet Resources Options Q & A
1. How can we get pet food if it is normally purchased at the store?
Option A – Online ordering: Amazon, Chewy, PetCo, PetSmart, PetSupplies Plus or other e-ordering websites.
Option B – Local Delivery: online ordering from local grocery delivery or pet stores.
Option C – Local Animal Resources such as pet shelters/rescues or pet food pantry for possible donations with pick up from a third party/neighbor/community member
Option D – Contact the pet’s veterinarian for alternatives to the pet’s normal diet. It is not advised to home prepare any non-commercial pet food without consultation and guidance from the pet’s veterinarian.
Option E – Emergency order – a request from a local/regional emergency manager to the State Emergency Operations Center can be done. This is intended for a large/critical need for pet food and would result in a bulk order to be delivered to a volunteer organization to distribute. This request must come from emergency management personnel and confirmation of critical need prior to request is mandatory (IDOA communicating with requestor).
2. How can we get veterinary prescription pet food and/or prescriptions from our vet clinic?
**Prescriptions will be approved by methods determined by each veterinary clinic to ensure proper medication goes to the proper pet/owner. **
Option A – Contact the pet’s veterinary clinic and schedule a pick up from a third party/neighbor/community member. May also be able to mail medication prescriptions. This has been occurring already throughout the state.
Option B – Contact the pet’s veterinary clinic and ask about online ordering; some clinics have their own online ordering, others will approve prescription orders through Chewy, Hill’s Science Diet Home Delivery, 1-800 Pet Meds, etc.
3. What about prescriptions my vet has called into a local pharmacy like Walgreens or CVS?
Option A – Contact the dispensing pharmacy to inquire about third party pick-up.
4. My pet is sick, what do I do?
**Call your pet’s veterinary clinic, or local emergency clinic if after hours. Options MAY be:**
Option A – if veterinary clinic determines it is a non-emergency, they may choose to perform an exam via telemedicine or recommend continuing to monitor with follow up exams as needed.
Option B – if the veterinary clinic determines it is an emergency they will provide further guidance on how your pet will be seen.
5. What about my horse/goat/cattle who requires feed?
Option A – coordinate pick up from the farm store/feed store with a third party/neighbor/local community member
Option B – coordinate with county Farm Bureau and/or U of IL Extension to facilitate coordination as in A above, or to find resources if unavailable from feed/farm store.
There is no evidence that companion animals, including pets can spread COVID-19. For questions regarding your pet and COVID-19 please visit the following website for more information:
Illinois Department of Agriculture COVID-19 Animal Resources page at: