Should we be worried about our pets and coronavirus?

Apr 6, 2020, 2:13 PM
from Shutterstock...
from Shutterstock

SALT LAKE CITY — After learning a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for COVID-19, the first known case of an animal picking up coronavirus from a human, some humans want to know: is there a connection between pets and coronavirus?

COVID-19 in big cats at the Bronx Zoo

Five other tigers and lions at the zoo have the same dry cough, officials said. However, they only tested the one tiger for coronavirus because testing wild animals requires putting them under general anesthesia.

Zoo officials believe a zookeeper, who did test positive for COVID-19, spread the virus.

tiger coronavirus

FILE – This Sept. 21, 2012, file photo shows an entrance to the Bronx Zoo in New York. A tiger at the zoo has tested positive for the new coronavirus. It’s believed to be the first infection in an animal in the U.S. and the first known in a tiger anywhere, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Sunday, April 5, 2020. The zoo says all the animals are expected to recover. (AP Photo/Jim Fitzgerlad, File)

According to an article from, a keeper could transmit the disease to an animal in several ways.

“The handler might have been [close to] the tiger, and may have sneezed or coughed, which could cause infection. The tiger could also have come into contact with something the handler earlier touched,” the magazine reported.

What it means for pets and coronavirus

A preliminary study from China, unconfirmed by any other laboratories, suggests dogs, pigs, chickens and ducks appear less likely to get COVID-19 from humans.  However, it found ferrets and cats may be more susceptible to contracting the virus.

Dr. John Williams, chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, studied coronaviruses for decades. He said that tigers also caught the related coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), during the outbreak from 2002 to 2004.

According to Nancy Larsen, DVM, owner of Senior Cat House Calls, it’s too early to tell just how infectious this virus is for our animal companions.  But, she added, taking the precautions we already do to prevent human transmission will help keep your pets healthy.

“There is very limited research right now on this new coronavirus where pets are concerned,” Larsen said, adding that the information we get changes almost daily.

DNA: do not abandon

The most important thing to note, Larsen said, “is the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) president, John Howe, says there is no evidence our pets can transmit the disease to their human owners.”

And the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization and AVMA issued a joint statement saying “there is no justification for abandoning your pets” in regards to COVID-19.

Larsen said following the CDC guidelines for washing our hands is just as important for our pets as for us.

If you get coronavirus, the experts recommend finding another person to be the primary caregiver for your pets if possible. Also, they recommend you always cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, whether around your pets or other people. And try not to let either pets or people lick your hands or face.

More information regarding your pets and coronavirus can be found here.

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

State of Utah:

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

Today’s Top Stories

All News

FILE: The sun sets as a rainstorm blows over Delicate Arch in Arches National Park near Moab on Sat...
Devin Oldroyd

Body found in Arches National Park Saturday

rand County Sheriff's Office reports the body of a female was found in Arches National Park Saturday, Oct. 1.
21 hours ago
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said that he will vote against any potential congressional d...
Devan Cole, CNN

Rubio vows to oppose potential Hurricane Ian aid package if lawmakers ‘load it up with stuff that’s unrelated to the storm’

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said he will vote against any potential congressional disaster aid for victims of Hurricane Ian if lawmakers "load it up with stuff that's unrelated to the storm."
21 hours ago
Photo credit: Lisa Wall Jones...
Devin Oldroyd

Fatal car crash closes southbound I-15 in Washington County

Southbound I-15 closed at mile marker 34, following a fatal car crash Sunday. Closure time is estimated to be two to three hours.
21 hours ago
The National Weather Service issues a severe thunderstorm warning in parts of Grand County. Photo c...
Devin Oldroyd

NWS issues severe thunderstorm warning in Grand County

The National Weather Service sent out a severe thunderstorm warning in parts of Grand County. Half-dollar-sized hail is being reported.
21 hours ago
Temple Square...
Devin Oldroyd

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announces the construction of 18 new temples

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the construction of 18 new temples.
21 hours ago
The new monuments at This is the place heritage park....
Devin Oldroyd

Progress in 175 years: Discovering new stories of Utah’s pioneers

Mary Richards with the Church News returns to KSL NewsRadio to celebrate lesser-known stories of Utah Pioneers
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Should we be worried about our pets and coronavirus?