What do I need to know about COVID-19 and my pets?

Over the past few months, a number of articles and studies have been circulated regarding COVID-19 and the possibility that humans might infect, or be infected by, their pets. In recent weeks, multiple sources have helped to clarify certain points about COVID-19 and animals, though some questions remain unanswered.

Health officials do believe that it is possible for COVID-19 to be spread from humans to animals. According to the CDC, the first case of human-to-animal transfer in the U.S. was in a New York City Zoo, when a tiger tested positive for COVID-19 after exposure to a zoo employee. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine also suggests that domestic cats can contract COVID-19 from humans and spread the virus to other cats.

While studies do suggest that human-to-animal transmission of COVID-19 is possible, there is very little reason to fear for your pets’ safety. Animals infected with COVID-19 generally exhibit very mild symptoms, and there are no reported cases of any pets passing away due to complications from the virus. Additionally, while animals may contract COVID-19 from humans in certain situations, there is no evidence that humans can contract the virus from their pets.

The best way to keep your pets safe in the current situation is to maintain social distancing and limit your pets’ exposure to other animals. Cats should be kept indoors if possible, and when outside the home dogs should be kept on a leash and at least 6 feet away from other humans and animals. If you suspect that you or a member of your household may be sick, try to limit interactions with your pet. More information about pets and COVID-19 can be found on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website.