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CDC releases new social distancing guidelines for pets

After a pug in North Carolina tested positive for coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control fine tuned guidelines for pets and pet owners.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — When we talk about staying healthy for our loved ones, we're including our furry family members too. Prior to this week, the Centers for Disease Control only had broad common-sense guidelines regarding pets during the pandemic. However, things changed with news of a pug testing positive for the coronavirus.

"Before there weren't that many guidelines when it came to companion animals getting ill associated with COVID-19," Dr. Graham Brayshaw said. Brayshaw has been a vet at the Animal Humane Society since 2012. 

"Because we now know that dogs can get the disease, I believe there were two cases in Belgium of cats contracting this and dogs in Hong Kong prior--because we know that animals can get this, the recommendation is that just like we socially distance ourselves, we should socially distance our animals as well," Brayshaw said. 

This means dog parks, aren't recommended.

"Dog parks, it's as much a social thing for people as it is for dogs as well," Brayshaw said. "I wouldn't recommend dog parks because of that side of it. It's just generally a social thing."

Walking and running with your dog is still okay but no more meet-and-greets on the sidewalk.

"Don't go interact with someone's dog for an extensive amount of time," he said. "No more meeting strange dogs. I would say that would be one joy I'd have to suck out of someone's life there."

Dr. Brayshaw also added it's recommended that if you have tested positive for the coronavirus, you should isolate yourself as much as possible from them, just like you would from a human family member.

"If you can distance them from the home that's great, but don't move them to a new home," he said. "Don't bring them to the Humane Society if you can care for them at home."

Having said all this, Dr. Brayshaw said there's no need to panic or stress out about your pet getting sick. He said the likelihood of cats and dogs getting severely ill from this type of coronavirus has been rare so far.

"No animals have gotten significantly ill from this virus," he said. "They've caught it, shown some mild respiratory signs and those that have caught it, it is a really tiny number compared to the number we've known to have exposed to it. So it's extremely rare for them to get it and those that get it show really mild signs."

Another day, another rule we have to navigate during the pandemic. Good thing this rule is easy to remember: whether they've got two or four feet, make sure to stay six feet away.

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