coronavirus pandemic: CDC updates guidelines for pets

By Emily Bamforth,

Updated 1:56 PM; Today 1:05 PM

A resident wearing a mask walks her dog on the streets of Beijing on Thursday, March 5, 2020.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)AP

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Outdoor cats should be kept inside during the coronavirus pandemic, and dogs need to stay six feet apart, under new guidelines issued by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Federal officials announced last week that two cats in New York were the first pets in the United States known to be infected with the coronavirus. The United States Department of Agriculture is now keeping a list of infected animals on its website.

Both cats showed respiratory symptoms before testing. One cat’s owner had already tested positive for COVID-19. There is no recommendation to widely test animals at this point, and pets have no known role in spreading the virus to humans, according to a federal statement.

Federal officials announced on April 5 that a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive,as several big cats showed respiratory symptoms.

SARS, the coronavirus that bears 80% similarity to the virus that causes COVID-19, infected cats in an experimental setting, but there were few natural cases.

Though it’s not listed on the USDA case list, Duke Health confirmed to multiple North Carolina outlets that a family dog – a pug – tested positive for COVID-19.

Officials did not give more details about the case, but the owners of the dog had tested positive for COVID-19 and were enrolled in a study about the virus, theRaleigh News & Observer reported.

The CDC now recommends pets maintain distance from humans and animals who are not in their households. Cats should be kept indoors when possible. Dogs should be on a leash, keeping 6 feet away from other people or animals.

Dog owners should avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.

If owners fall ill, the CDC recommends having another member of the household care for the pet and avoiding contact, including petting and sharing food or bedding. If contact is unavoidable, owners should wear a cloth face covering and wash hands before and after caring for the animal.

This story has been updated to show that a family dog in North Carolina is thought to be the first case of COVID-19 infection in dogs in the United States