With all of us staying at home and practicing social distancing, pets have become all the more important sources of affection.
But many pet owners are concerned if their dog or cat can get the COVID-19, and can they pass the virus and illness to their owners?
These concerns were further fueled when last week, Nadia, a Tiger in the Bronx Zoo in New York City, contracted the virus—along with six other suspected cats which all had dry coughs and appetite loss.
Earlier international reports of three domesticated pets — 2 dogs in Hong Kong and a cat in Belgium — also tested positive for the coronavirus all the animals fully recovered.
Doctor Maria Solacito, senior veterinarian of the LA County Animal Care and Control, says owners should not fear their pets getting them sick—but with a caveat.
“There’s no current evidence indicating that pets can directly transmit covid19 to other pets or humans. However, it is recommended that you keep your pets away from non-household humans and animals as a precaution. So as you would practice social distancing, we need to create the same safe space for our pets.”
Doctor Solacito recommends specific precautions when caring for your pets right now:
When walking your dogs during this pandemic, try to use pathways with lower foot traffic—avoiding other people or other animals.
Cats who are typically let to roam freely should be kept indoors.
When you’re done walking your dogs, wipe off their paws with diluted soap and water to eliminated possible contamination, then wash your own hands.
And if you happen to be sick, or become COVID-19 positive — your pets should also be completely removed and isolated away from you.
For people who rely on service animals for health or emotional well being, the doctor advises.
“You to wear a face mask or face covering—and to let the animal kiss or lick your face, because the point of infection are is the mouth, nose and eyes.”
And if your pet needs medical attention?
“You probably need to call your vet first to see if your need can be addressed by tele-medicine… anything that can be delayed for couple of months, you need to talk to your veterinarian.”