COVID-19 FAQs: I need help

Fri, 03/20/2020 - 19:46
Woman sitting on the floor cradling an orange and white kitten in her arms

Can COVID-19 be spread from people to pets?
Can COVID-19 be spread from pets to people or other pets?
My pet is sick but I’m not able to leave my house. How can I get help?
What should I do to prepare for my pet’s care, just in case I do get sick?
I care for a community cat colony, how should I prepare for their care during stay at home orders and in case I get sick?
If I am sick and need to be hospitalized, where can my pet stay?
Can I still take my dog for a walk?
I lost my job and I’m struggling to feed my pet. What can I do?
I found a stray animal and my local shelter is closed. What should I do?
If my pet becomes lost, where should I start looking?
I work for a shelter or rescue and need resources.
I cannot keep my pet anymore. What should I do?
I found injured wildlife. What can I do?

Can COVID-19 be spread from people to pets?

According to the latest information from the CDC, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is very low.

If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed), treat your pets like you would other family members.

When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. 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 them. 

We encourage you to monitor the CDC's latest information on pets and COVID-19 for the latest updates.

Can COVID-19 be spread from pets to people or other pets?

According to the latest information from the CDC, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is very low.

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.

  • Wash your hands after handling animals, their food, waste, or supplies.
  • Practice good pet hygiene and clean up after pets properly.
  • Take pets to the veterinarian regularly and talk to your veterinarian if you have questions about your pet’s health.

We encourage you to monitor the CDC's latest information on pets and COVID-19 for the latest updates.

My pet is sick but I’m not able to leave my house. How can I get help?

As access to standard veterinary services have changed for many people across the country, Best Friends is offering free veterinary consultations for 30 days to people unable to leave their homes through our Best Friends Vet Access app when you use the code BFHELPS.

Calls can be recorded and the service will be offered 24 hours a day. If you need medical assistance for your pet, please take advantage of this temporarily free service. Please note, the code BFHELPS is valid for 30 days, and the service is $12.99 after that unless cancelled.

Download the app for free.

What should I do to prepare for my pet’s care, just in case I do get sick?

Our COVID-19 Pet Preparedness Plan has detailed information in English and Spanish for how to prepare in case you do become ill with COVID-19. Here are some key actions you can take to prepare and help ensure the safety and care of your pets:

  • Identify a trusted person to care for your them if members of your household become ill or are hospitalized. 
  • Make sure your pets all have proper identification. Ensure microchip information is up to date in case you and your pet are separated. Found Animals offers a free registry for existing microchips at: https://www.foundanimals.org/microchip-registry/
  • Ensure all vaccinations are current and that you have updated vaccination records on hand.
  • Keep a two-week supply of food and extra supplies on hand (medications, cat litter, carrier or crate, diet related treats, supplements, etc).
  • Document all pet care notes, including feeding and walking routines, important notes about your pet’s behavior, and medications with dosages and administering instructions.
  • Print out these cards to put on your doors/windows to alert responders that you have pet(s) in your home needing assistance in case of emergency.

I care for a community cat colony, how should I prepare for their care during stay at home orders and in case I get sick?

The COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder that we all need to have a plan in place for how our pets will be cared for in the event we become unable to do so. The same is true for community cat caregivers, whose tireless efforts ensure that community cats receive food, water, shelter, and (where practical) veterinary care.

You can find recommendations for preparing a plan for community cats, including a checklist, here.

If I am sick and need to be hospitalized, where can my pet stay?

Create a plan for your pet now, just in case you face illness or another emergency. Reach out to family, friends, your regular pet sitter and neighbors to see who can temporarily care for your pet if you are hospitalized. Research doggy daycare centers, kennels and vet offices that provide overnight and extended care and have their contact information handy in case of an emergency.

Have pet preparedness kits ready for all animals in your family. They should include information about each animal, updated vet records, medications and food. Be sure everyone in your household can locate these kits.

Check out our COVID-19 Pet Preparedness Plan for more information.

Find more tips and advice on emergency preparedness and pets.

Can I still take my dog for a walk?

If you are healthy, outdoor activities are safe when practiced within the current guidelines. According to the CDC, you should avoid touching surfaces and stay at least six feet away from other people.)

If you are sick, it’s a good idea to have another member of your household care for your animals if possible. 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 them. 

We encourage you to monitor the CDC's latest information on pets and COVID-19 for the latest updates. 

I lost my job and I’m struggling to feed my pet. What can I do?

Our financial aid for pets resource is a comprehensive list of resources that offer assistance for pet guardians who are struggling financially, as well as senior citizens, people with disabilities and people who are seriously ill.

You can also contact your local animal shelter, humane society or SPCA. Oftentimes, these organizations can help provide pet food to families in need. In addition, many local food banks and food pantries that have food assistance programs for people will also provide pet food. If you are unsure who to contact in your area, please let us know where you live and what resources you are looking for and we will work to find facilities in your area. 

I found a stray animal and my local shelter is closed. What should I do?

Found a stray dog or cat: What should I do? – If you find a stray dog or cat, keep in mind that the animal may be a lost pet and could be the subject of a frantic search by someone. This resource provides good tips for finding the pet’s person. 

Stray dog or cat rescue: What to do next? – If you’re not able to locate the pet’s person or your local shelter is closed, this resource provides good tips for bringing a stray home. It also provides great tips for utilizing digital platforms to find lost pet owners, such as posting free listings in the community lost and found area on your local Craigslist site and utilizing community based networks like Nextdoor.com. Also look for lost pet resources by state on Facebook, such as Lost Dogs - MN, Lost Dogs, WI, Lost Dogs, TX, etc. If you’re not able to locate the pet’s person or your local shelter is closed, this resource provides good tips for bringing a stray home.

If you’ve found stray kittens, please read the resources below which provids information on figuring out whether to leave the kittens alone or take action.

Caring for abandoned kittens
Caring for abandoned kittens (Spanish)
What to do if you find kittens

If my pet becomes lost, where should I start looking?

  • Your local shelter may be open by appointment only or may be closed to the public entirely, so we advise that you contact the shelter before you visit. The shelter may have additional instructions regarding lost pets.
  • If you pet is microchipped, contact the microchip company to put out a lost pet alert on your pet’s microchip number. Make sure your contact information is up to date.
  • Create a lost pet flyer (free flyer-maker program is available at www.petbond.com) and circulate it across social channels. Examples include: Lost and found Facebook groups, Craigslist, Nextdoor, etc. You could also print hard copies of the flyer to distribute around your neighborhood.
  • Call local vet clinics and hospitals to see if they’ve received any animals and offer to send them a digital copy of the flyer to have on hand. 

More tips about how to find your lost pet can be found here.

I work for a shelter or rescue and need resources.

If you're with a shelter or rescue group looking for information on COVID-19, visit our network partner resource site for a comprehensive list of resources. It is being updated regularly so check back in for new material. 

I cannot keep my pet anymore. What should I do?

We know this is a difficult time for many and are sorry to hear you are no longer able to keep your pet. Here are some key things you can do to find your pet a new home. 

  • We recommend you prepare your animal for adoption to the best of your ability. It’s helpful for your pet to be spayed or neutered and up-to-date on vaccinations. Also, be sure to have all of your pet’s medical records and files ready for the new adopter. Adopters are always interested to know about their new pet’s current and previous medical history to ensure they can prepare for and care for them properly. 
    • Note: During this national emergency there is a chance clinics and vet offices will be closed, so you might not be able to update your pets’ vaccines or get them sterilized. If that is the case, just let your new adopter know and share any previous records.
  • Help connect prospective adopters to your pet. Take some clear well-lit photos and write a biography to help people make a connection with your pet. Once photos and a description are ready, create a flyer (you can make a free one at petbond.com) and distribute in as many places as possible (Facebook, Instagram, Next Door, Craigslist, etc). 
  • Rehoming sites like rehome.adoptapet.com can also be very helpful in spreading the word and help you find a new adopter. 
  • Use word of mouth and community contacts. Word of mouth should not be underestimated. Tell anyone and everyone about a pet who needs a home and ask friends, co-workers and family members to help spread the word. It could be that a co-worker's father, neighbor, daughter or other distant relative or friend might be looking for a new pet. Ask people you know to mention the animal in their church's newsletter, send an e-mail about the pet through their office memo system or share some flyers in their own network. 
  • During this time, many shelters and even rescue organizations may not be accepting new animals. Even if they can’t take your pet, some may offer courtesy postings on their websites or have alternative ideas to help you share your pet’s information with adoptive or foster homes.

If you need to rehome your pet due to economic circumstances and changes, resources may be available to help you. Please contact us (covid@bestfriends.org) or your local shelter to see what services might be available.  

Please visit this website to learn more information about rehoming your pet.

I found injured wildlife. What can I do?

Before attempting to rescue any wild animal, please read Wild animal rescue: Orphaned or injured wildlife. It’s important to read this resource before you take action because every year many young wild animals are “rescued” by well-meaning people who assume that the young animals are orphans. Often, the parents are nearby and the young animals do not need to be rescued at all.

If you have determined that a wild mammal does indeed need to be rescued, the following resources will provide insight on safety precautions, how to find a wildlife rehabilitator and more:

Wildlife animal rescue: Safety precautions

Wildlife rehabilitator: How to find one

How to help an injured wild bird

Baby bird rescue


These resources are being frequently updated as situations change. If you have further questions or know of local resources that may be helpful, please reach out to covid@bestfriends.org. Learn more about Best Friends response to COVID-19 and how you can help.