The dog, in New York, and cat, in Minnesota, are both quarantining and expected to recover

By Gabrielle Chung Kelli Bender and Kate Hogan
June 03, 2020 11:38 AM
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The United States Department of Agriculture announced on Tuesday that a pet German shepherd in New York state tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, adding to the small handful of cases seen in domesticated dogs thus far in the pandemic. 

According to a release from the USDA, the dog was tested after showing signs of "respiratory illness," but is expected to make a full recovery. One of the pet's two owners had tested positive for COVID-19; the other did not have symptoms.

Across the country in Minnesota, a similar situation occurred in a house cat whose owner was positive for COVID-19. 

According to the Star Tribune, the cat was taken to the vet with a temperature of 105 degrees and, like the dog in New York, signs of respiratory illness following the owner's positive test. The animal is now isolating at home; a family dog has not shown signs of illness.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization and the American Veterinary Medical Association have maintained that there is no evidence that domestic pets can spread COVID-19 to their owners or to other humans. 

In April, the CDC recommended that pet owners "treat pets as you would other human family members to protect them from a possible infection" by limiting their interaction with humans and animals outside of their household. 

Pet owners are urged to keep cats indoors when possible and to walk dogs on a leash while maintaining at least six feet apart from other people or animals. The CDC also advises pet owners to refrain from visiting dog parks and other public places where a large number of humans and animals gather. 

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In addition, the agency advises people who are suspected to have the novel coronavirus or have tested positive for COVID-19 to avoid contact with pets and other animals — including "petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding" — when at all possible. Wearing a mask around animals is suggested (though animals don't need masks) and if you are feeling sick, don't take your pet to the veterinarian yourself. 

According to Dr. Douglas Kratt, president-elect of the AVMA, “it’s highly unlikely we’re going to transmit it [COVID-19] to our pets, and it’s even more unlikely that our pets would transmit it back. There’s so much evidence of person-to-person infections that we’re seeing versus the number of confirmed cases that people have given it to animals.”

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