What to know about protecting pets from coronavirus, caring for them if you’re sick

With zoo animals and household pets testing positive for coronavirus, people may wonder what they can do to protect their furry friends from infection. Or, if they get sick themselves, how they can care for their pet without spreading the virus to them.

Two cats tested positive for the virus in New York earlier this week, as have several lions and tigers at the Bronx Zoo, McClatchy News reported.

While experts aren’t sure if animals can spread the virus to people, they believe people can give it to them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are still learning about this virus, but we know that it originally came from an animal source and is primarily spreading from person-to-person, but it appears that it can spread from people to animals in some situations,” according to the CDC

To keep them safe, keep some space. Social distancing works for humans, and it should work for pets too.

“Treat pets as you would other human family members – do not let pets interact with people or animals outside the household,” the CDC advises. “If a person inside the household becomes sick, isolate that person from everyone else, including pets.”

What if you get sick?

For any pet owners who get sick, the CDC recommends having a friend, neighbor or family member look after it until they recover. But this may not be possible for everyone.

If there’s no one else available, take precautions. Wear a mask or face covering, and wash your hands both before and after interacting with pets, be it feeding them or taking them outside.

No matter how much the dog whines for attention, no “petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, sleeping in the same location, and sharing food or bedding,” is allowed.

Vet visits

Health officials urge people not to go to the veterinarian’s office in person during the pandemic, especially if there is reason to believe their pet has contracted COVID-19.

Instead, schedule a virtual visit.

“Some veterinarians may offer telemedicine consultations or other plans for seeing sick pets. Your veterinarian can evaluate your pet and determine the next steps for your pet’s treatment and care,” the CDC says.

‘Risk to pets is low’

Though more cases of human-to-animal transmission are being reported, experts still say the risk is low.

“This is almost exclusively a human-to-human transmitted disease, and the risk to pets is very low, with only a handful of cases of the virus appearing in companion animals, and no cases of people getting sick from their pets,” Michael San Filippo, a spokesman for the American Veterinary Medicine Association, told NBC.

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