Can I give my dog or cat COVID-19? The CDC has tips on keeping your pets safe

Howard Cohen

MIAMI — As people spend more time indoors with other family members, the concern about passing the coronavirus to a loved one is one of our daily stressors.

And what if one of your loved ones is a dog or a cat?

Can our pets get COVID-19 from its human?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the answer is yes.

“A small number of pets worldwide — including cats and dogs — have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19,” the CDC recently announced.

The CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture believe, at this time, that the risk of animals spreading the novel COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. (“Pets have other types of coronaviruses that can make them sick, like canine and feline coronaviruses. These other coronaviruses cannot infect people and are not related to the current COVID-19 outbreak,” according to the USDA.)

In June, the USDA reported that the first dog to test positive for COVID-19 belonged to an infected human in New York.

Most of the animals that tested positive for COVID-19 were in New York, and include a lion, tiger, two cats and three dogs, between April 24 and July 1, according to the USDA.

The closest animal geographically to Florida to test positive for the new virus was a dog in Georgia on July 1.

What should you during this pandemic and if you have a pet?

— First, don’t panic. So far, most pets that have gotten COVID-19 haven’t been very sick and have recovered. Protect yourself and others by wearing a mask when out of your house — in many communities, like Miami-Dade, it’s now the law. That’s basic. But be prudent. The CDC and the World Organisation for Animal Health, headquartered in Paris, adds these tips:

— Treat pets as you would other human family members — don’t let pets interact with people outside the household.

— If a person inside the household becomes sick, isolate that person from everyone else, including their pets.

— Don’t mask your dog or cat. For you, it’s safe, unless you have a medical condition. For them, it’s not.

— Maintain good hygiene practices, such as washing your hands, and wear a face mask around your pet if you have the coronavirus and have no one else to help you care for your pet.

— Animals that belong to owners infected with COVID-19 should be kept indoors — much like we have to lockdown in similar situations.

— Try to keep your cats indoors. It’s safer for them for a lot of reasons, not just because of the coronavirus.

And, as the CDC notes, “this is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.”