Pets and the virus - new recommendations from Animal Medical Center

Susan Richard
April 06, 2020 - 9:26 am

UPDATE: Since this article was written, the CDC has added social distancing FOR PETS to its guidelines.  That includes not allowing either people or animals from outside your immediate household to touch your pet.

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) Plenty of questions from pet owners after a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for the virus and now a total of 7 tigers and lions tested positive for covid-19.

The animals were believed to have been infected by a zoo employee who wasn't yet showing symptoms, so what we're seeing is that while there's no evidence that animals can give us the virus, we can spread it to them.

In the wake of this, and a study out of Hong Kong which showed that housepets can get the virus (cats appear to be more susceptible than dogs), the Animal Medical Center is advising pet owners not to touch your animal at all without first washing your hands. This is regardless of whether or not you are symptomatic.

Here are the tips from AMC Veterinarian, Dr. Ann Hohenhaus:

- Wash your hands before and after every time you come in physical contact with your pet, for now, even if you are well and have no symptoms.

- If you are sick and must take care of your pet, wear a mask around them and wash your hands before and after every physical interaction.  Do not hand feed your pet and do not kiss them or let them sleep with you in the bed. In addition, it's best to separate yourself from your pet so either have other family members take care of them or make a plan now to have someone else care for the animal in the event you get ill.

- If your pet appears sick, call your veterinarian, who may be able to do a telemedicine conference first, to determine whether or not to bring them in to be checked out.

- Thinking this is too tough to do? Dr. Hohenhaus says this whole thing is tough and we need to take precautions. As for why this was not previously advised, she says this situation is a 'moving target' and guidelines continue to be updated as we learn more. 

Listen to the full interview with 1010 WINS' Susan Richard:

Learn more HERE.