Vet wants pet owners to remain calm after tiger gets COVID-19

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Animal doctors and health professionals are asking people to remain calm after a tiger in New York tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

“The biggest thing the CDC and AMA want people to take home here is do not panic,” Dr. Angie Zinkus said.

Zinkus works with the Germantown Parkway Animal Hospital and said veterinarians are hearing some horror stories.

“There are stories of people abandoning their pets and things like that, and there is no reason to do that,” she said.

She said the tiger at the Bronx Zoo getting coronavirus from a zoo worker is very rare.

The greater risk is people-to-people rather than people-to-animals but still do not expose your pet to people who are have the virus.

“Yes, it is true if a person had coronavirus, you need to have someone else taking care of your pet,” Zinkus said.

Social distancing may be a good idea for pets as well as yourself. This means avoiding animals and people you don’t know and areas like dog parks.

“One person asked me, ‘Should I disinfect my pet’s paws and Lysol them?’ No,” she said. “You are going to end up back here. Lysol is actually toxic to cats.”

She said dogs and cats can get a coronavirus, but it’s different than COVID-19.

“They have a different type of coronavirus,” Zinkus said. “Cats have one that can involve the respiratory tree, where dogs it can involve their G.I. tract and respiratory tree.”

Zinkus wants to remind people it does not hurt to be extra cautious while health officials work to fight this pandemic.

Other veterinarians said tele-medicine is good for pets. Instead of taking your pet in for nonemergency services, call and talk with your vet on the phone or internet.

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