How COVID-19 Is Impacting Animals

The best way to participate in social distancing is to spend some quality time cuddling with a pet. But if you have become infected by the virus, it is best to let someone else in your household care for your pets (Photo Courtesy of Hannah Britton).

Although the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that it “has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States,” the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) claims that they have had COVID-19 cases in both dogs and cats reported to them and a tiger at the Bronx Zoo may be the first known case of animal infection in the U.S.

Nadia, a Malaysian tiger at the Bronx Zoo, tested positive for the virus and is among six other big cats who are displaying symptoms. It is likely that Nadia was infected by her handler, who was asymptomatic. She is the first non-domestic animal to contract COVID-19.

A cat in Belgium, who belongs to a person with COVID-19, tested positive for the virus on March 18. The cat displayed both symptoms of digestive and respiratory diseases

Three dogs in Hong Kong were placed into quarantine after their owners tested positive for COVID-19 and were hospitalized. All three dogs showed no clinical signs for the virus but tested positive when swabbed. One dog returned home with its owner after quarantine, while the other two dogs will remain in quarantine for 14 days and will be tested as needed.

The situation of owner-to-pet transmission is currently being monitored by the CDC and its human and animal health partners. At this time, the CDC states that “in the United States, there is no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets, livestock, or wildlife, might be a source of COVID-19 infection.”

How to Protect Your Pets

If you have been confirmed for the virus, there are things you can do to protect your pets from getting it too. Animals have been mostly asymptomatic or showed symptoms of respiratory and/or digestive disease. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Labored breathing
  • Discharge from the nose
  • Drooling
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite, bleeding

The CDC does not recommend getting your pet tested for the virus

The CDC recommends treating your pets just like you would a person by avoiding contact, including petting, cuddling, sharing food and being licked. If possible, the OIE states that pet owners should let another family member care for their pet, but if you absolutely have to care for your pet you should wear a mask.

According to the OIE, pets who have been in contact with COVID-19 positive individuals should be kept indoors.

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