April 28, 2020 • 2 Min

The Facts About COVID-19 and Pets

Fluffy gray kitten on a spotted fake fur blanket

During times of stress, like the COVID-19 pandemic, our pets provide a great source of comfort.

Their antics keep us amused and maybe feeling a little less isolated, judging by the numerous viral videos of dogs, cats, and other pets. But occasional reports of COVID-19 in dogs and cats (and Bronx Zoo tigers) in New York, Hong Kong, Belgium, and now North Carolina, have pet owners concerned.

Can you get sick from your pet?

Just the Facts

While COVID-19 can infect pets, you are more likely to give the virus to your cat or dog than the other way around. According to the CDC, the pets that have tested positive for COVID-19 were in close contact with their infected owners. At this time, the CDC does not believe that pets play a significant role in the spread of the illness to humans. So, the chances of you getting COVID-19 from your pet are very low.

Social Distancing Applies to Pets Too

What should you do if you have pets? The CDC recommends that your pet follow the same social distancing protocol as you do. If you walk your dog outside use a leash, keep at least six feet apart, and do not let your pet interact with other dogs by avoiding public parks or dog parks. Keep your cats indoors.

If you get COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet as much as possible, like you would with any other family member. If you must care for your pet, wear a mask and wash your hands before and after. If your pet gets sick, call your veterinarian for next steps.

The American Veterinary Medical Association also recommends having two weeks of food on hand, as well as any medicine your pet needs, in case of emergencies.

The CDC has a useful FAQ page for any other questions about pets and COVID-19. Ultimately the illness should be of minimal concern to pet owners, according to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.