How does the COVID-19 pandemic impact dog and cat food makers?

America’s pet food makers are hard at work producing food and treats for our dogs and cats! PFI members take seriously their responsibility to provide the sole source nutrition that pets need. This includes adapting additional practices or measures to ensure social distancing at their facilities to help keep employees safe. Across the country, nearly all state governments had declared that pet food manufacturing and other pet businesses were essential at the beginning of the pandemic. In addition, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued guidance listing this sector as essential.

Does coronavirus impact pet food and treat products or packaging?

Pet lovers can be assured that pet food and treats are safe. Safety is the number one priority for PFI members, and steps are taken throughout the manufacturing process to ensure rigorous hygiene and employee safety at facilities, including regular cleaning and sanitizing practices.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that “currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.” It is extremely unlikely for there to be any active SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, within any unopened pet food or treat container. In addition, studies on past coronaviruses like MERS and SARS show that thermal processing leaves the viruses inactive, meaning that high temperatures kill the virus. The process of cooking a pet food or treat would inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 virus if it were present.

When buying new food and handling the packaging, it is important to follow standard sanitary practices, including regularly washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Does the ongoing pandemic impact the immediate availability of my favorite dog or cat food?

Pet food manufacturing was designated as an essential sector since early in the COVID-19 pandemic and PFI members maintain modified operating protocols to help ensure a safe workspace. While pet food manufacturing continues, shoppers may occasionally find that the immediate availability of certain products can vary during the pandemic.

A product’s immediate availability can be impacted by factors such as weather, which can slow the distribution of goods across the country. In addition, pet lovers spending more time at home with their dog or cat may want to purchase pet food in larger quantities than normal. In order to help minimize additional strain on distribution, PFI strongly encourages shoppers to only purchase the food they would regularly need. Be assured that PFI members are working to safely produce food for your pets, and we recommend contacting the individual company for assistance regarding a specific dog or cat food product.

What should pet owners be doing now?

Pet lovers should ensure they have at least two weeks’ worth of food while only purchasing the amount of food they regularly would need. We recommend also checking with your veterinarian about ordering any prescriptions ahead of time, and ensuring you have sufficient essential pet products such as cat litter. When bringing food home, it is important to still follow recommended storage tips and guidelines to keep it safe. Pet owners should also continue to follow sound sanitary practices when interacting with pets, including washing their hands with soap and water.

We also remind pet lovers to have a plan in place for their dog or cat, and determine who can care for your pet if needed, such as family, friends or a trusted pet sitter.

Can pets spread the coronavirus to humans?

There is no current evidence to suggest that pets in the United States play any significant role in the transmission of COVID-19, according to a range of health experts, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

Where can I find additional information about how to care for my pet right now?

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) are important national and global resources for information about pet care during the COVID-19 pandemic.