Compiled by Mariam Kamal, VMD

Last updated March 24, 2020

*Note: This information is evolving rapidly. I will update this page as I become aware of important changes. I will send update notifications to my VIP email list for Grinvites, my animal art company. You can sign up at It’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time. Please use the contact form if you have questions or concerns.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Read more at the World Health Organization website.

Can dogs or cats become sick with COVID-19?

Currently there is no evidence that dogs or cats can become sick from the virus.

Can dogs become infected with the virus?

Yes, but it is extremely rare. On February 26, a 17-year-old Pomeranian in China tested “weak positive” for the virus. Experts believe that the dog’s owner may have passed the virus to her dog. The dog did not become ill. Read more on the American Veterinary Medical Association website.

Since then, a highly regarded facility called Idexx Laboratories has tested thousands of pet samples that have all yielded negative results. Recently, a second dog in China has tested positive for the virus. This new dog is a young German Shepherd, who is also not exhibiting symptoms. (Read the news article from the Veterinary Information Network by clicking here.)

Can cats become infected with the virus?

Note that as of March 23, 2020, no cats have tested positive for the virus.

Can dogs and cats infect humans or other animals with the virus?

There is no evidence that cats or dogs can infect humans or other animals with the COVID-19 virus.

What do the answers above mean for me and my pet?

It means that we must exercise caution. It is very unlikely for your pet to become sick or infected from COVID-19, but we still have a lot to learn. If you have flu-like symptoms or think you have been exposed to COVID-19, you should also be distancing yourself from your pet. Otherwise, you can interact with your pet normally.

What if I need to visit the vet during this time?

To help protect yourself, you should reschedule any routine veterinary or grooming visits for your pet. Only seek urgent care if needed. (If you receive a reminder for a wellness visit by email or snail mail during this time, remember that those reminders are automated.)

Where is veterinary care available?

24 hour emergency veterinary centers remain open nationwide. I recommend doing an internet search for the one closest to you and confirming it is still open.

In New York City, the following emergency centers remain open:

BluePearl Veterinary Partners
410 West 55th Street, New York, NY 10019
(212) 767 0099

BluePearl Veterinary Partners
1 W 15th St, New York, NY 10011
(212) 924 3311

BluePearl Veterinary Partners
190 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 596 0099

BluePearl Veterinary Partners
107-28 71st Road, Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 263 0099

Animal Medical Center
510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065
(212) 838-8100

Veterinary Emergency Group
1215 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10065
(212) 223-3500

Veterinary Emergency Group
2220 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11234
(718) 677-6700

Will my family veterinarian remain open?

Some general practices remain open as well, regardless of where you are. If you visit your family veterinarian for emergency care, I urge you to request a copy of their COVID-19 protocols prior to your visit. Veterinary care is an essential service, but some practices are currently safer than others because their COVID-19 policies are stricter.

What are some of the safest COVID-19 policies for a veterinary practice in your opinion?

1. Only urgent-care visits. All routine visits and elective surgeries should be rescheduled.

2. All leashes, collars and carriers be cleaned with an approved alcohol-based sanitizer prior to the visit.

3. No owners should enter the clinic or hospital – animals are dropped off, examined, and owners are called from inside the clinic with a plan for testing and treatment.

How are veterinary schools responding?

Below are links to policies from several veterinary schools. Numerous institutions are adopting the policies I outlined above.
University of Pennsylvania
Cornell University
North Carolina State University

What do I need to shelter in place with my pet?

1. Food and medication. Have at least a month of your pet’s food, medications and supplements. (Even if your family veterinarian is closed, many are still answering phones for refill approvals and other requests.)

2. Toiletry essentials. Remember to stock up on essentials for your pet’s eliminations, such as cat litter, doggie bags, and diaper pads.

3. A safe method of transport. Make sure your carriers are clean and accessible, just in case emergency should arise.

4. Medical records. Request a copy of your pet’s medical records from your veterinarian and keep it on hand.

5. Water. Purchase several gallons of water for each pet in your household. Although there is currently no concern for loss of services like running water and electricity, it is always best to be prepared when you are in charge of another life.

Can I walk my dog outside?

Yes. Just remember to follow social distancing guidelines. You and your pet should stay together and remain at least six feet away from other people outside.

Can I go to the dog park?

Use your discretion, but I don’t recommend it. It’s likely your dog will come closer than six feet away from unfamiliar people, and there is no way of knowing the COVID-19 status of those people.

What are some other resources you have for me?

How do I sign up for updates?

I will send out any updates to my VIP email list for Grinvites, my animal art company. You can sign up at It’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time.

What's your personal message to others during this time?

First I’d like to say that my heart goes out to everyone who has been affected by this virus, especially where it has impacted your health or the health of your family. All of us must continue to fight with our greatest strength.

I’m going to quote a relatively objective figure that anyone can relate to: the personal development expert Tony Robbins. Tony sent an email out on Monday, March 23rd with the following message:

“No matter where you are in the world, no matter how much time you have or don’t have, you can work on yourself….remember: It’s time to become conscious of your power and remind yourself and all those around you the human race is resilient, flexible, and strong beyond imagination. Lead, don’t follow.

“Discover ways to innovate, to create and to give and support others who may not see past the winter. Lead with the truth of our essence, that faith and certainty, our natural birthright and our abilities, can be awoken. This ability can be activated, so live the truth today around everyone you’re around. Then we can solve any problem we face. The human race always has, and it always will.”

You can read Tony’s full email to his followers here.

I think that Tony does an excellent job explaining our opportunity for growth here. This is where the rubber meets the road. We are experiencing what may possibly be the most dramatic historic event of our lifetimes. Now is the time for focus, not fear.

Many of us have heaps of unexpected free time on our hands in our new work-from-home settings. Instead of spending this time scrolling through Instagram or binging on Netflix, why don’t we use the gift of this time to look inward and work on ourselves and our lives?

Yes, there is uncertainty. There may be new job applications, unemployment checks, unpaid bills. But when the dust settles and you’re twiddling your thumbs, why not listen to a new book on Audible? Watch a documentary? Sit down with your life goals? Spend time cherishing your family?

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we emerged from these ashes stronger than ever before?

Every single one of us is stronger than we realize and smarter than we think. What if we used this unprecedented time as a springboard to catapult forward? Think to yourself, how has this situation forced you to think outside the box? Have your priorities shifted, or maybe you’ve realized they’re different than what you thought?

Think to yourself: what can you do with this time that could change your life—or better yet, others’ lives?

I will leave you with that food for thought. I thank you for being dedicated pet owners and animal advocates. I urge everyone to stay safe and follow the guidelines of our health experts and officials working so hard to protect our health. Please use the contact form if you have any questions on COVID-19 as it pertains to dogs and cats.

Stay safe and be well,