Veterinarians, owners see impact of coronavirus pandemic on household pets

CDC: No reports of COVID-19 in household pets

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Over the weekend a tiger in a New York zoo tested positive for COVID-19. The zoo is also reporting that some of its other big cats are also showing symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control has not reported any other cases of animals contracting the virus.

However, local veterinarians are saying the outbreak is impacting household pets in other ways.

How to protect your pets amid the coronavirus outbreak

Memphis veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Karnes says national health agencies are not reporting that household pets can spread the virus.

“Right now the AVMA and the CDC does not believe that there is direct transmission from animals into people,” said Karnes.

Central Animal Hospital in Midtown has, however, seen pets facing other problems indirectly caused by the outbreak, such as an uptick in limping due to over-exercising.

“This is a great time if you want to start taking more walks with your pets, but let’s do it on sort of a couch potato to 5K situation," said Karnes. “Sort of taking that slowly just like you would for you or I.”

Pet owners are also feeding their furry friends more treats than usual, which is causing digestive problems.

Dr. Karnes says if pet owners do contract the virus, they should ask someone to care for their pets until they are out of quarantine. If they aren’t able to have someone else take care of their pets, they should wear protective gear.

“We’d recommend that you wear a face-mask and gloves and limit interactions,” she said. "Stay out of their faces. Don’t hug them. You can absolutely feed them and tend to their basic needs.

Some pet owners are also reporting that their four-legged family member doesn't seem as excited to see them. Dr. Karnes says it's because you're not spending much time apart, and that distance may indeed make the heart grow fonder.

So maybe spending some time in living room east and they can spend some time in living room south, so you do have that joyous reunion a couple of times a day," said Karnes.

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