OTTAWA -- A tiger at the Bronx Zoo recently tested positive for COVID-19, a first, leaving many wondering what it means for the average pet.

“They can be reservoirs of the infection; either the virus living on their coat as a foal mite, and we don’t know how long it would live on them.”

Doctor Danny Joffe is the National Medical Director for VCA Animal Hospitals.  He says that cats can catch COVID-19, but it’s not known if they can spread the virus to humans directly.

“A lot of people think that eventually we’ll find out that cats can share the virus, and be a source for infection, but right now what we know is cats can get the virus, and can get sick from the virus”

Doctor Joffe says that ferrets are a popular pet in Canada, and one that we should be extra careful with,

“The one species that we know that can contract the virus, can get sick, and then can actually secrete the virus back to the environment are ferrets; we have to be very careful with ferrets.”

What is common about all pets, is the virus could live on your pet’s fur, infecting others.

“Certainly, if someone is COVID-19 positive, and coughs in their hand, and pats the dog, that virus will be on the dog’s fur; we don’t know how long it will live for, likely not long, but it can be a potential source for infection,” said Dr. Joffe.

Keep your dog on a short leash and away from other people or animals:

“When I’m going out to walk my dog, we plan a route where we’re likely to come across the fewest people, we watch ahead and… you have to keep control so that your dog doesn’t ever get more than two metres to another person,” said Dr. Joffe.

We look to our pets for comfort when we’re sick, but if you’re isolating from your family, you need to isolate from your pet too.

“You could shed the virus onto the pet, then transfer it onto other people in your house; just like we want to physically distance ourselves from other family members if we’re feeling sick, we need to do the same from our pets,” said Dr. Joffe.