House pets can get infected with the coronavirus, public health officials say, but the illness is normally mild in animals and none have died.
Officials say there’s not a lot of information on pets and coronavirus as the world works to respond to the pandemic. But they say the risk is low that dogs and cats could pass the virus to humans.
“A small number of pets (cats and dogs) have been confirmed to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with a person with COVID-19,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Two cats in the United States have tested positive for the virus, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. The virus has also been confirmed in two dogs and a cat in Hong Kong. Another cat in Belgium may have also been infected, the AVMA said..
A pug named Winston in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, tested positive for coronavirus in April after several members of a family contracted the virus, The News and Observer reports.
Eight tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo tested for positive for the virus, McClatchy News previously reported.
“It is important to remember that there is currently no reason at this time to think that domestic animals, including pets, in the United States might be a source of infection,” the AVME said.
“Some pets did not show any signs of illness, but those pets that did get sick all had mild disease that could be taken care of at home,” the CDC said.
What to do if your pet shows symptoms
There are tests available for animals, but the CDC advises pets should only be tested when they’re showing symptoms and have been exposed to someone with the virus.
You should not take your pet to the vet, especially if you are infected. Instead, call your veterinarian and they may be able to diagnose or advise you over the phone.
The CDC said symptoms in pets are similar to those in humans: coughing, difficulty breathing, fever, runny nose, sneezing, eye discharge, vomiting, diarrhea and unusual laziness or sluggishness.
If your pet does get sick, it should stay home except for medical care and be isolated from other people and pets in the house. People should avoid petting, snuggling and sharing bedding with the dog or cat.
Cats should be kept inside and dogs should only be given walks if needed to go to the bathroom. If you have a backyard, dogs should just be let out in the yard instead of possibly coming into contact with other animals or people.
People should wear a mask and gloves when with an infected pet. But, the CDC said, “Animals should not wear a cloth face covering or mask. Do not try to put a cloth face covering on your pet.”
Infected pets may need a new test after a couple weeks to see if they are still sick, the CDC said. If a pet is not under veterinary care, people should keep infected pets isolated for at least 14 days. Pets should be kept in isolation for at least another 72 hours with no symptoms.