Can pets catch the coronavirus?

Published: Apr. 7, 2020 at 12:18 AM EDT
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After a tiger in New York was confirmed to have the coronavirus, many have started to wonder about their pets. While it is rare for them to catch it, there are a handful of cases around the world where its happened.

Dr. Marcy Souza is a veterinarian and professor at UT's College of Veterinary Medicine. She said the virus originated in wild animals, before being passed to humans.

"Since then both domestic dogs and domestic cats have tested positive," Souza said. "A few dogs have been infected. Two that they’ve actually identified neither of them were sick. Of the two cats one of them had some respiratory illness but seems to have recovered another cat didn’t seem to have any symptoms at all."

She said the important thing to keep in mind with all of these is these animals are getting sick from contact with us. "We're actually giving the virus to them," Souza said.

She said pets rarely catch the virus, but if they do it probably came from close contact with a sick human.If you think might have coronavirus, see if someone else can take care if your pet. If you can't find help, use caution.

"Make sure that before you handle them you’re washing your hands and you’re not accidentally coughing on them," Souza said. "Take precautions with your pets, just like you would prevent transmission to another person."

Dr. Souza said right now there’s no evidence that a pet can transfer the virus back to humans if they do catch it.

"We are learning a lot about this disease still, and we want to make sure we keep our pets safe as well as our people," Souza said.