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How to keep your pets safe during COVID-19

Although the risk of animals spreading the virus is low, it is still possible for people to spread it to animals through close contact

ST. LOUIS — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is sending out a warning for pet owners amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The CDC said in the United States, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in the spread of COVID-19. Although the risk of animals spreading the virus is low, it is still possible for people to spread it to animals through close contact.

So, the CDC has provided some steps you can take to keep your pets safe.

Risk of people spreading the virus to pets

The CDC said it's still learning about the virus that causes COVID-19, but it appears it can spread from people to animals in some situations. 

A small number of pets, including cats and dogs, have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 worldwide. Earlier this month, a dog in Texas was infected with the virus.

Several sea lions and tigers at a New York zoo tested positive for the virus after showing signs of respiratory illness. Public health officials believe they became sick after being exposed to a zoo employee who had COVID-19. The virus also was recently discovered in mink on multiple farms in the Netherlands.

Infected pets might get sick or they might not have any symptoms at all. Of the pets that have gotten sick, most have had mild illness and fully recovered.

RELATED: Texas dog infected with virus that causes COVID-19, state animal health officials say

What to do if you’re a pet owner

Until the agency learns more about how the virus affects animals, the CDC said you should treat pets as you would other human family members to protect them from a possible infection.

The CDC recommends pet owners limit their pet’s interaction with people outside their household.

  • Keep cats indoors when possible and do not let them roam freely outside.
  • Walk dogs on a leash at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Avoid public places where a large number of people gather.
  • Do not put face coverings on pets. Covering a pet’s face could harm them.

The CDC said there is no evidence that the virus can spread to people from the skin, fur or hair of pets. Pet owners should not bathe pets with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or any other products not approved for animal use.

If your pet gets sick or if you have concerns about your pet’s health, talk to your veterinarian.

RELATED: CDC extends social distancing guidelines to include pets

Protect pets if you are sick

If you have tested positive or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you should restrict contact with your pets and other animals.

Avoid contact with your pet including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, sharing food and sleeping in the same bed. When possible, you should have another member of your household care for your pets. 

If you must care for your pet or be around other animals, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.

If you have COVID-19 and your pet becomes sick, don’t take your pet to the vet yourself. Call your vet and let them know you have COVID-19. 

The CDC said some vets may offer telemedicine consultations or other plans for seeing sick pets. Your vet can evaluate your pet and determine the next steps for treatment and care.

RELATED: Dogs are being trained to smell COVID-19 on people

Stay healthy around animals

In the United States, there is no evidence that animals are playing a significant role in the spread of COVID-19, according to the CDC. 

Based on the information available, the risk of animals spreading the virus to people is considered to be low.

However, because all animals can carry germs that can make people sick, the CDC said it’s a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets.

  • Wash your hands after handling animals, their food, waste or supplies.
  • Practice good pet hygiene and clean up after pets properly.
  • Talk to your veterinarian if you have questions about your pet’s health.
  • Be aware that children 5 years of age and younger, people with weakened immune systems and older adults are more likely to get sick from germs some animals can carry.

Check out the CDC's website for more information about pets and the coronavirus.

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