Can you pass COVID-19 to your pets?

A tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 this week.

It's the first known animal in the US to test positive for the virus.
Houston SPCA's Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Roberta Dev said pet owners worried about potentially infecting their furry friends with COVID-19, or vice versa, should not panic.

"In general, we do not want people to worry about contracting COVID-19 from their pets and we don't want them necessarily worrying about spreading it to their pets. Unless you know you are a confirmed carrier of COVID-19," Dr. Dev said. 

RELATED: How to stay safe while grocery shopping, ordering takeout during coronavirus crisis

Instead, Dr. Dev said pet owners who are sick and known carriers of the Coronavirus should practice the same precautions as they would with other humans - limiting contact and practicing social distancing.

"We definitely encourage you to come up with a preparedness plan for your pet, the same way that you would for your family especially if it may just be you in the home with your pet. If you are sick or ill or unable to care for your pet, do you have someone that could help you?" Dr. Dev said. 

According to the World Health Organization, not enough information currently exists to know if animals can spread the virus.

RELATED: If you’re going to make your own face mask, the material matters, researchers say

In the case of the Bronx Zoo in New York, authorities suspect a Malayan tiger, who tested positive for COVID-19, may have contracted the virus from one of the zoo employees. However, researchers have not confirmed that theory.

In the meantime, Dr. Dev said symptomatic pet owners should consider wearing PPE like face masks and gloves to avoid exposing their animals and of course, keep an eye out for tell-tale, respiratory signs of the virus.  

"If they are symptomatic, the signs would be similar to the ones we find in people, which is coughing. Coughing is probably going to be the most common, along with a fever," Dr. Dev said. 

Dr. Dev said there would need to be probable cause in order for authorities to start testing animals more frequently.