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COVID-19 Animal FAQs

Q. I just heard about the tiger at the Bronx zoo testing positive, does that mean that my pet is at risk?

A. Animal health and public health officials are monitoring this situation closely. This tiger is the first animal in the United States to test positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. It had contact with a zookeeper that developed COVID-19. It is believed that the zookeeper transmitted the virus to the tiger before becoming symptomatic.

There have been over a million people worldwide that have been infected with this virus and many of those people have pets and/or livestock. To date, in addition to this tiger, there have been only 2 dogs in Hong Kong and a cat in Belgium that tested positive for the virus. The dogs tested “weak” positive and the cat was the only animal that showed any signs of disease. The cat has recovered without any special care and the tiger is also expected to fully recover. At this time there does not appear to be any significant risk for household pets and livestock to contract the virus from infected people. Also, at this time there does not appear to be any risk for pets and livestock to be a source of infection for people. It is generally a good recommendation, regardless of the illness, for sick people to not have close contact with animals until they are feeling better. Close contact such as snuggling, hugging, kissing, and sharing food is to be avoided. Learn more.

I heard a dog in Hong Kong that was living in a household with a person that has COVID-19 tested weakly positive. Does that mean that dogs can get sick with COVID-19?

The testing that was done by authorities in Hong Kong detected the virus that causes COVID-19 in the mouth and nasal passages of a dog. This is not unexpected because the dog was in close contact with an infected person who was shedding the virus. The dog has been monitored for signs of disease and has not shown any signs of illness.

If a dog or other household animal can have the virus that causes COVID-19 on its body, can that animal then spread the virus to another person?

There are many diseases that can be spread from animals to people. At this time Health Officials don’t believe COVID-19 can be spread by animals. Health officials always recommend that people always wash their hands after touching or having any contact with animals as a general precaution. Washing hands after touching or having contact with animals will prevent the spread of many diseases. For more information on the many benefits of pet ownership, as well as staying safe and healthy around animals including pets, livestock, and wildlife, visit CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website.

What can I do to ensure my pets are cared for if someone in my household contracts COVID-19?

If someone in your household contracts COVID-19, you will likely be asked to self-quarantine for a period of time. This means that you will be asked to stay in your home to reduce community transmission of the virus. Therefore, in addition to planning for the needs of the people in your household, you will need to plan for the needs of any pets. Ensure you have a minimum of at least 2 weeks-worth of food for your pets as well as any medications they may take. For more information on preparing for your pet, please visit CDC's Pet Disaster Preparedness Kit website.

If I am hospitalized for COVID-19, should I bring my pet to the shelter?

Every effort should be made to have friends or family members take care of your pet if you need hospitalization. This is the same recommendation that would be made for hospitalization for any reason. Pets will be more comfortable in familiar environments with familiar people

Are meat and dairy products that come from affected countries safe to eat?

According to the CDC, there is no risk of contracting COVID-19 from animal products. Safe food handling practices should always be practiced as a general precaution.

Where can I get more information on COVD-19 and animals?

To see more from CDC on Animal’s and COVID-19, please visit CDC's Coronavirus Disease FAQ website.

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Ken Ayars, Chief
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Providence, RI 02908-5767
Phone: (401) 222-2781 ext. 4500