A veterinary holds a newborn bengal tiger cub called "Covid" at the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center "Africa Bio Zoo", in Cordoba, State of Veracruz, Mexico on April 05, 2020 amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. (Photo by VICTORIA RAZO / AFP) (Photo by VICTORIA RAZO/AFP via Getty Images)

1209295729

A veterinary holds a newborn bengal tiger cub called "Covid" at the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center "Africa Bio Zoo", in Cordoba, State of Veracruz, Mexico on April 05, 2020 amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. (Photo by VICTORIA RAZO / AFP) (Photo by VICTORIA RAZO/AFP via Getty Images)

Photo by: VICTORIA RAZO

VICTORIA RAZO

The Truth About COVID-19 and Your Animals

By: Leah Weber

Experts in the medical and veterinary fields help clear up rumors and answer your burning questions about how COVID-19 affects animals.

April 23, 2020

As we traverse the pandemic and learn more and more about the novel Coronavirus that is impacting humanity as a whole, we continue to worry about our loved ones—including our pets. Every minute, scientists are working hard to learn more about this virus and what it does to humans and animals alike. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) keep the medical community and the public swiftly informed during this tumultuous time.

The Start of the Virus

Understanding coronavirus and its relationship between animals and humans is to understand that this virus likely started in an animal. Animal Planet’s Dave Salmoni spoke with WHO’s Dr. Peter Ben Embarek to learn the facts once and for all. According to Dr. Embarek, “[COVID-19] jumps from an animal we usually raise for foods or hunt for foods. And previous examples are Ebola, the MERS virus in the Middle East,[and] the SARS virus--all jumped to humans from food in places where we raise animals and get too close to some wild animals in our search for food.” Dr. Embarek is a food safety expert from the Department of Food Born Illness and Zoonoses at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

You can watch the interview with Dr. Embarek and other experts in The Zoo: Covid19 & Your Animals airing this Saturday at 11P ET on Animal Planet.

Pet Safety

Cute American shorthair striped cat resting in a drawer with a round shaped hole

1187328550

Cute American shorthair striped cat resting in a drawer with a round shaped hole

Photo by: Kilito Chan

Kilito Chan

Using that logic, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that animals, and even our pets, could catch the virus just as people do. As we saw in the big cat populations at the Bronx Zoo, there are now confirmed cases of pet cats testing positive for COVID-19 in New York state. These findings were discussed by Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh from the CDC who spoke to The Associated Press saying, “We don’t want people to be afraid of pets. There’s no evidence that pets are playing a role in spreading this disease to people.” Though the CDC does recommend social distancing for pets, too—cats should stay inside, and dogs should distance from other dogs and humans.

The cases in New York state still leave us asking questions about the spread of the virus. For example, in the case of one of the infected cats, the owner did not have a confirmed case of COVID-19. However, the owner had a short respiratory illness prior to the cat’s diagnosis and the cat did go outside from time to time. The other cat was in a household with an owner who tested positive for COVID-19, but the other cat in that home that has a clean bill of health. As questions abound, we continue to turn to the WHO.

The World Health Organization’s Stance

The one thing we do know is that the novel coronavirus is called that for a reason—It is new, and we are finding out new things about it every single day. For now, rely on the WHO and OIE’s information and guidelines regarding yourself and your pets. And on the topic of animals, this is their guidance.

  • There is a possibility for some animals to become infected through close contact with infected humans. Further evidence is needed to understand if animals and pets can spread the disease.
  • Based on current evidence, human to human transmission remains the main driver.
  • It is still too early to say whether cats could be the intermediate host in the transmission of COVID-19

You can find more information via the World Health Organization’s Frequently Asked Questions.

Next Up

Invasive Plant Problem? Bring in the Goats

Forget the gardener — you need goats! NYC's Riverside Park opted for a sustainable and eco-friendly way of getting rid of invasive plant species with the help of some furry friends.

Helping the Los Angeles River Change Course

As a human trying to commute from Long Beach to Downtown Los Angeles to the hills of Pasadena, you probably already know that you’ll be making your way on infamous, traffic-clogged roads filled with obstacles to be avoided.

Rare Whales Spotted in California

A handful of sightings of rare whales have been recorded off the coast of California in recent weeks, leading some to wonder what’s causing the magnificent beasts to swim up to the ocean surface.

'Ice Volcanoes’ Burst Along Lake Michigan

Past due! Lake Michigan’s winter wonders came a bit late this year. Do we blame climate change for this?

Caring for Coral at Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium is home to a variety of coral species that come in an array of different shapes and colors. The coral reef wall in Georgia Aquarium’s Tropical Diver gallery is one of the largest coral walls in any aquarium. Propagation aquarists at the Aquarium cultivate and transplant live coral from a behind-the-scenes aquaculture pool to the reef wall in their Tropical Diver gallery.

Meet This Unique Otter Species

A few months ago, Georgia Aquarium welcomed two new additions to their Asian small-clawed otter habitat. Triton, a 4-year-old female, and Han, a 3-year-old male, joined the Aquarium as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Program (SSP).

Saving Hawaii’s Native Species

Not so very long ago, Hawaii was a remote island, populated solely by endemic flora and fauna–and its native inhabitants. Now, however, it is known throughout the world as a must-visit tourist destination, while Americans have moved to the islands in their masses, buying up beachfront properties.

Virgin Births: The First California Condor Chicks Born from Unfertilized Eggs

The first two instances of asexual reproduction have been confirmed in the California condor species.THE ZOO: SAN DIEGO is streaming on discovery+.

Fossils Found Under Greenland’s Ice Sheet

Leaf and twig fossils are discovered to be “perfectly preserved” under Greenland’s ice sheet, fascinating scientists and leading to further discovery.

The Largest Living Thing on Earth Is a 3.5-Square-Mile Fungus

The blue whale is the biggest animal on Earth, but it’s not Earth’s biggest life form. No, the blue whale pales in comparison to the actual largest living thing on the planet: the humongous fungus.