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CDC Extends Social-distancing Guidelines to Household Pets

Close up of person stroking Black Labrador dog's head.

The rules of social distancing are indeed changing, and not just because we are close to the national guidelines expiring on April 30.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention issued new guidelines this week suggesting that pet owners follow the same social-distancing rules with their furry family members as with everyone else during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Treat pets as you would other human family members — do not let pets interact with people or animals outside the household,” the agency said in an advisory. “If a person inside the household becomes sick, isolate that person from everyone else, including pets.”

The agency is also advising pet owners to avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs typically gather.

The change comes after reports of animals becoming infected after having contact with a person with the virus.

Last week, two pet cats in New York state tested positive for coronavirus, marking the first diagnoses of domestic animals in the country. In addition, last Monday, a North Carolina pug became the first dog in the nation to test positive for the virus.

The first known case of any animal catching the virus in the U.S. was a 4-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo named Nadia. She is believed to have been infected by a zookeeper, according to reports.

Additionally, seven more big cats at that zoo also tested positive, the Wildlife Conservation Society says. All of them are now recovering.

Still, the CDC stresses there is no evidence that animals play a major role in spreading the virus to humans.

“The first infections were thought to be linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now primarily spreading from person to person … Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low,” the CDC said.