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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending people follow the same social distancing guidelines with their pets as they would human family members after a small number of animals, including dogs and cats, were reportedly infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
CDC guidelines recommend people restrict their pets from interacting with other animals when outside their house and urge people to keep cats indoors when possible and to walk dogs on a leash while maintaining at least six feet from other people and animals.
The CDC also calls for people to avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.
If a person is sick with COVID-19, the CDC recommends avoiding contact with pets and other animals if possible. If a person must care for a pet while sick, the CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering and washing hands before interacting with them.
The CDC said most of the small number of animals reported to be COVID-19 positive were infected after having contact with a person with the virus, but the risk of having animals spread COVID-19 to people “is considered to be low.”
“In the United States, there is no evidence that animals are playing a significant role in the spread of COVID-19,” the CDC said.
The first case reported in the U.S. of an animal testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 was a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York earlier this month. It was followed by a report of four more tigers and three lions at the zoo testing positive.