1. If animals (especially felines) can contract the virus, can they pass it back to people?
Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that pets, livestock, or zoo animals can spread the COVID-19 virus to people.
2. Should we have our cats and dogs tested for COVID-19?
No. Routine testing of domestic animals for COVID-19 is not being recommended by the AVMA, CDC, USDA, or the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD).
3. What should the pet owner do if they think their pet has the virus?
Reinforce the need to call the veterinary clinic with any questions about the pet’s health. Have the owner call ahead to ensure the veterinary clinic is prepared for the pet. Also, make sure to ask if the animal was exposed to a person sick with COVID-19 and if the pet is showing any signs of illness. If the veterinarian believes a patient should be tested, they will contact state animal health officials, who will work with public and animal health authorities to decide whether samples should be collected and tested.
4. Should pet owners stop interacting with their pets?
If the owner is not ill with COVID-19, they can and should interact with their pets as usual—including feeding, playing, etc. Advise them to continue to practice good hygiene when interacting with pets (e.g., wash hands before and after interacting with the pet; keep bedding, toys, bowls, litter boxes clean; etc.)
5. There are not enough human COVID-19 tests, why are animals being tested?
The tests differ between humans and animals. The test used to diagnose the Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo was performed in a veterinary school laboratory and is not the same test as is used for people. The species differ; human samples do not get sent to the veterinary laboratory, and animal tests do not get sent to the human laboratories.³ These are different situations and there is no competition for testing.
These are stressful times. Everyone is anxious and has many questions. Remember to take each question as it comes. Listen and give fact-based answers in a calm and reassuring tone. People are scared. Be knowledgeable and positive and above all be kind.