A tiger at The Bronx Zoo got sick from the coronavirus: Pet owners are wondering if cats and dogs could be vulnerable to the virus


EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) — Pets are part of our family. Most pet owners shower them with unconditional love. Now that most of us are working from home to allow social distancing, should we limit the love we give to our four-legged friends since the coronavirus infected a tiger at The Bronx Zoo?

“We don’t need to be overly concerned with our pets getting sick from this right now,” said Hilltop Animal Hospital Owner Ian Scholer. “However, we do need to be careful. We need to protect ourselves, we need to limit social contact, and we need to wash our hands regularly.”

Chinese researchers say they have evidence that the coronavirus can infect cats and ferrets. But the virus replicated poorly in dogs and other livestock animals. However, it’s unclear if animals could spread COVID-19 to people.

“It’s unlikely, but if somebody were to cough and sneeze on your dog, and you pet your dog, then you ate a sandwich, you could theatrically come down with it,” said Scholer.

The American Veterinary Medical Association reports two dogs and two cats in Belgium and Hong Kong living with people diagnosed with COVID-19 have been infected. Scholer says people infected with the coronavirus should stay away from pets while in isolation.

Scholer told NewsChannel 6 reporter Devin Johnson there is no set protocol right now for animal hospitals since these are the first reported cases of animals with coronavirus.

“When we do have a sick pet come into us, we’re trying to get adequate history,” said Scholer. “We ask if anybody has been sick at this time, and have they been in contact with anybody. If they have and they are showing abnormal signs or have an illness we can’t explain; the protocol at the point would be to contact the state officials.

While there is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread from people to pets, veterinarians are urging folks to wash their hands before and after interacting with our furry friends.

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