Cat owners were shaken in April when two New York cats were diagnosed with the coronavirus, just weeks after a tiger was confirmed to be COVID-19 positive at the Bronx Zoo. Now, after weeks of being told that our pets weren’t carriers, pet owners are understandably wondering if our four-legged family can infect us after all.
Despite the alarming proximity of these two cases, officials remain adamant that pets can’t infect their owners with the coronavirus, which will hopefully dissuade anybody from abandoning their animals.
However, dogs and cats can be infected by their humans and carry trace amounts of the virus in their fur, which is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new guidelines to help keep your pets safe during these challenging times.
Basically, these new directions call for humans to treat their animals like regular family members, who should be social distancing (ie giving strangers a wide berth) to help reduce their risk of infection and flatten the curve. The CDC also recommends avoiding dog parks, keeping your dog 6 feet away from other people on walks, and keeping all indoor cats inside.
These guidelines become even more important if somebody in your household begins displaying symptoms of COVID-19, which include coughs, fevers, chills, sore throat, and a sudden loss of taste or smell. In these cases, patients should avoid interacting with their pets, just as they would human family members.
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Trust us, we know this will be tough. All we want to do is snuggle with our four-legged family when we’re feeling under the weather. But rebuffing your pets’ insistence on snuggling, sharing food, and/or co-sleeping – although it may hurts in the short-term — will help keep him or her safe.
See below for some of the CDC’s pet safety guidelines for dog and cat owners, which will help keep fur families safe during the pandemic.
-Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
-Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
-Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals.
-Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.
-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.
Always check the CDC’s website for the latest information.
J. Swanson is a writer, traveler, and animal-enthusiast based in Seattle, an appropriately pet-crazed city where dog or cat ownership even outweighs the number of kids. When the weather permits, she likes to get outside and explore the rest of the Pacific Northwest, always with a coffee in hand.
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