The New Coronavirus and Companion Animals

COVID-19 General Information:

Coronaviruses belong to the family Coronaviridae. Alpha- and beta-coronaviruses usually infect mammals, while gamma and delta coronaviruses usually infect birds and fish. Canine coronavirus, which can cause mild diarrhea and feline coronavirus, which can cause feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), are both alpha-coronaviruses. These coronaviruses are not associated with the current coronavirus outbreak. Until the appearance of SARS-Cov-2, which belongs to the beta-coronaviruses, there were only six known coronaviruses capable of infecting humans and causing respiratory disease, including the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus SARS-CoV (identified in 2002/2003) and

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus MERS-CoV (identified in 2012). SARS-Cov-2 is genetically more related to SARS-CoV than MERS-CoV, but both are beta-coronaviruses with their origins in bats. While it is not known whether COVID-19 will behave the same way as SARS and MERS, the information from both of these earlier coronaviruses can inform recommendations concerning COVID-19.

In the last few weeks, rapid progress had been made in the identification of viral etiology, isolation of infectious virus and the development of diagnostic tools. However, there are still many important questions that remain to be answered.


The most up-to-date information and advice on human infection can be found on the following

The most up-to-date information related to animal health can be found on the following website:



In response to this outbreak, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association [WSAVA] Scientific and One Health Committees have prepared the following list of frequently asked questions in collaboration with One Health interested individuals around the globe. We are aware of issues related to pet abandonment in China and hope that this information will be of use to veterinarians around the world in dealing with the concerns of their clients.

  • Can COVID-19 infect pets?

Currently there is no evidence that companion animals can be infected with or spread COVID-19.
This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.


  • Should I avoid contact with pets or other animals if I am sick with COVID-19?

The CDC recommends the following: “You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while
you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been
reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people
sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.
When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If
you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or
licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash
your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask.” Please check for new
updates on CDC’s website.


  • If my pet has been in contact with someone who is sick from COVID-19, can it spread the disease
    to other people?

While we do not yet know for sure, there is no evidence that companion animals can be infected
with or spread SARS-Cov-2. We also do not know if they could get sick from this new coronavirus.
Additionally, there is currently no evidence that companion animals could be a source of infection to
people. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.


  • What should I do if my pet develops an unexplained illness and was around a person with
    documented COVID-19 infection?

We don’t yet know if companion animals can get infected by SARS-Cov-2 or sick with COVID-19. If
your pet develops an unexplained illness and has been exposed to a person infected with COVID-19,
talk to the public health official working with the person infected with COVID-19. If your area has a
public health veterinarian, the public health official will consult with them or another appropriate
official. If the state public health veterinarian, or other public health official, advises you to take your
pet to a veterinary clinic, call your veterinary clinic before you go to let them know that you are
bringing a sick pet that has been exposed to a person infected with COVID-19. This will allow the
clinic time to prepare an isolation area. Do not take the animal to a veterinary clinic unless you are
instructed to do so by a public health official.


  • What are the concerns regarding pets that have been in contact with people infected with this

While COVID-19 seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to person. Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people. Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses. Importantly, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets such as dogs and cats, can become infected with COVID-19.

Although there is no evidence that pets play a role in the epidemiology of COVID-19, strict hand hygiene shouldbe maintained by the entire clinicalteamthroughout the veterinary interaction,especially if dealing with an animal that has been in contact with an infected person.


  • What should be done with pets in areas where the virus is active?

Currently there is no evidence that pets can be infected with this new coronavirus. Although there
have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, until we know more,
pet owners should avoid contact with animals they are unfamiliar with and always wash their hands
before and after they interact with animals. If owners are sick with COVID-19, they should avoid
contact with animals in their household, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and
sharing food. If they need to care for their pet or be around animals while they are sick, they should
wash their hands before and after they interact with them and wear a facemask.

This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.


  • Should veterinarians start to vaccinate dogs against canine coronavirus because of the risk of

The canine coronavirus vaccines available in some global markets are intended to protect against
enteric coronavirus infection and are NOT licensed for protection against respiratory infections.
Veterinarians should NOT use such vaccines in the face of the current outbreak thinking that there
may be some form of cross-protection against COVID-19. There is absolutely no evidence that
vaccinating dogs with commercially available vaccines will provide cross-protection against the
infection by COVID-19, since the enteric and respiratory viruses are distinctly different variants of
coronavirus. No vaccines are currently available in any market for respiratory coronavirus infection
in the dog. [Information from the WSAVA Vaccination Guidelines Group].


  • What is the WSAVA’s response to reports that a dog has been ‘infected’ with COVID-19 in Hong

Reports from Hong Kong on February 28 indicated that the pet dog of an infected patient had tested “weakly positive”to COVID-19 after routine testing. On March 5, the Hong Kong SAR Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) reported that nasal, oral, rectal and fecal samples from the dog have been tested. On February 26 and 28, oral and nasal swabs were positive, while on March 2,only nasal swabs showed positive results. The rectal and fecal samples tested negative on all three occasions. Testing at both the government veterinary laboratory (AFCD) and the WHO accredited diagnostic human CoV laboratory at Hong Kong University (HKU) detected a low viral load in the nasal and oral swabs. Both laboratories used the real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method and the results indicate that there was a small quantity of COVID-19 viral RNA in the samples. It does not, however, indicate whether the samples contain intact virus particles which are infectious, or just fragments of the RNA, which are not contagious.

The dog, which is showing no relevant clinical signs, was removed from the household, which was the possible source of contamination on 26 February. Retesting was performed after the dog was put under quarantine to determine whether the dog was in fact infected orwhether its mouth and nose were being contaminated with COVID-19 virus from the household.

The AFCD’s document states that the “weak positive” result from the nasal sample taken 5 days after the dog was removed from the possible source of contamination suggests that the dog has a low-level of infection and it is likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission. However, there is still no evidence at this time that mammalian pet animals including dogs and cats can be a source of infection to other animals or humans.

WSAVA urges pet owners in areas where there are known human cases of COVID-19 to continue to follow the information in its Advisory, including washing their hands when interacting with their pets and, if sick, wearing face masks around them.The situation is rapidly evolving, and information will be updated as it becomes available.

We will update our Guidance as further information becomes available.

Note: WSAVA recognizes that not all recommendations will apply to all areas or all regions at all
times, depending on the epidemiological risk and risk mitigation in the area. WSAVA encourages
veterinarians to keep in close contact with, and follow the directions of, their local veterinary

If you are worried about the health of you pet please contact us: 509-448-4480, or Click to schedule an appointment.



Can Acupuncture Help My Pet?

Some of you may have already asked yourself this question, or maybe even wondered if acupuncture is a valid treatment option. I mean, it’s a little out there, right? Does it actually help? Hopefully the following post will help answer some of these questions, and give you the information you need to decide if acupuncture would fit into your pet’s already established treatment regimen.

Veterinary acupuncture has likely been around for the same amount of time as human acupuncture, which is over 1000 years! In the US, veterinary acupuncture has been practiced for several decades. There is more than one school of thought regarding how acupuncture points are chosen. Dr. Patterson was trained in the neurophysiology based method, which means the points are chosen based on the physical issues present e.g. nerve dysfunction, arthritic pain, gastrointestinal issues, etc.

As with human acupuncture, our goals with veterinary acupuncture are to decrease pain, & increase mobility and comfort in our patients. We use it to treat pain from arthritis or soft tissue injuries, and to help increase nerve function in animals that may have spinal cord diseases or neuropathies. It can also be used to treat certain kidney or digestive disorders, or in conjunction with laser therapy to help with wound healing.

Does it seem impossible to perform acupuncture on a cat or dog (or any other animal for that matter!)? After all, they would probably rather be anywhere else than an exam room getting poked with needles! Luckily those pesky needles are quite small, about the size of a human hair, and flexible, therefore many patients barely register them. We also offer our patients snacks like baby food, peanut butter, and other yummy treats to keep them occupied while the needles are being placed and stimulated. We also try to have our sessions in a non-clinical area, one that is comfortable for both the patient and owner.

Acupuncture is a treatment modality that works best when administered routinely. For example, an ideal acupuncture treatment regimen might look something like this: you and your pet come in for an initial evaluation and discussion about your main concerns and goals. This includes an appointment with the veterinarian, who will do a physical exam on your pet and determine how acupuncture may benefit your pet; the first session will also take place. Then, we schedule weekly sessions for at least 3 weeks. By that time, we will be able to determine how your pet is responding to the treatment.

As with any treatment, human or veterinary, each individual patient will respond, well, individually. While most patients are quite happy and cooperative during the acupuncture sessions, there are those who are too worried or uncomfortable to allow the treatment to occur. In that case, we will discuss other treatment options that best fit with your pet’s current status.

Acupuncture could be a wonderful adjunct to your pet’s already established treatment routine. Please feel free to call and chat with Dr. Patterson if you have any questions!
Schedule an Appointment

For more information, check out the links below!

WSU – Veterinary Acupuncture

PetMD – Acupuncture

National Geographic Video: Treating Animals with Acupuncture


Cold Weather Pet Safety

Our coats keep us cozy-warm!

Your pet’s fur coat will not necessarily protect him/her from this cold weather.  Different dogs will have varying levels of tolerance to temperature extremes and can be susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite, regardless of breed or fur type. Some breeds are built for the cold, so can spend more time in cold temperatures than others.  Cold tolerant breeds, such as Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes, are great examples of dogs that are made to play in the snow, but be aware they still can suffer from exposure.  Many small and toy breeds and shorter, thinner coated dogs will be unable to spend much time in the cold.

Here are some tips to help keep your pet warm this winter:

  • Limit time outside for your pet, allowing for shorter periods of exposure for the less cold-tolerant dogs.
  • Monitor snow-play closely–dog playing may generate a lot of heat, but may lose it very quickly.  A wet coat will make that happen even faster.
  • Take shorter walks with your dog, just more frequently.
  • Add extra indoor playtime.
  • Consider adding a dog coat to help maintain body temperature.  The other dogs will not laugh, I promise!
  • Using Dog Booties can also help prevent heat loss, as well as protecting the foot pads from ice lacerations.
  • Pets with arthritis may have more difficulties during cold weather, and may even be more susceptible to injuries due to increased stiffness and slippery walkways or stairs.  Check with your pet’s veterinarian for managing any of your pet’s medical conditions during cold weather.
  • Outdoor pets should always have a warm, covered shelter and open, clean water.  These pets will also likely need extra calories during the cold months, so check with their doctor on their specific recommendations.

Other winter hazards to avoid:

  • Antifreeze is a very common poison and usually way too easy for pets to access this time of year.  It tastes good to our pets, but can be very deadly.  Clean up any leaks or spills immediately.
  • Deicing chemicals/salts can also pose a hazard.  Be sure to wipe off your pet’s feet when they come in to prevent tracking it in the house and to keep them from licking it off of their paws.
  • When wiping off their feet, check over the pads for any cuts, scrapes, or splits.  These can be very painful and easily get infected.  Avoid walking your dog where the ice has formed hard ridges or edges, they can slice into the feet as easily as a knife!  Consider no-slip dog booties if you run or walk with your dog in uneven, icy areas.

Dogs having fun in the snow is one of the joys of winter, but we also want to be sure they do so safely!