Federal officials revealed that two pet cats in New York had confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday — the same day that New York City’s Bronx Zoo confirmed that a total of eight animals had tested positive for the virus.
Now, public health officials have released new guidelines on how to keep your pet — and yourself — safe from the coronavirus.
In a media statement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged that public health officials are aware that a small number of pets have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the pets had mostly come into contact with people who had COVID-19, the CDC says. Now, the federal agency has updated guidance to try to protect people and their pets. Here’s what you need to know, plus why it might impact your next dog walk.
What are the new guidelines?
The CDC specifically recommends that pet owners do the following:
- Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside your house.
- Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
- Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least six feet from other people and animals.
- Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.
If you or one of your family members are sick with COVID-19, the CDC recommends doing your best to restrict contact with your pets, just like you would do with people. It also suggests the following:
When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick.
Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding.
If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.
So far, pets who have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 seem to have relatively minor symptoms. “They’ve had coughing and basic upper respiratory signs,” Ashley Rossman, DVM, a veterinarian at Glen Oak Dog and Cat Hospital in Glenview, Ill., tells Yahoo Life. In general, experts say you shouldn’t stress out about your pet contracting COVID-19, as long as you follow the proper precautions.
Read the whole article for tips on how to put these guidelines into practice.