Now that the first domesticated dog has tested positive for for the novel coronavirus, joining at least one tiger at the Bronx Zoo, it's probably worth noting that the CDC earlier this month extended America's social distancing guidelines to include pets.
To be clear: there's no evidence of pets infecting humans, but that doesn't mean it can't happen. So far, tests suggested that the viral strains found in animals weren't concentrated enough to cause infection in humans, but nobody can say for certain.
We’re still learning about how #COVID19 affects animals, but it appears that people can spread the virus to animals in some situations. Until we know more, limit contact with pets if you are sick or feeling sick. For more info, see: https://t.co/H8NS2GTd4x. pic.twitter.com/uGEbo1su2O— CDC (@CDCgov) April 23, 2020
Instead of allowing your dog to run around the neighborhood without a leash, sniffing the anus of every fellow canine, the new guidelines advise Americans to "treat pets as you would other human family members."
"Do not let pets interact with animals or people outside the household," the CDC said.
Dog owners should avoid taking their fur-babies to dog parks, or any places where they might risk infection.
More importantly, the guidelines recommend that "if a person inside the household becomes sick, isolate that person from everyone else, including pets."
While the CDC acknowledged that much research still needs to be done, there's enough evidence now to suggest that pets can be infected by humans.
Outside the US, a handful of other house pets, including both cats and dogs, have been infected in Japan and in China, according to unconfirmed reports.