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After a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for COVID-19, are house pets at risk?

"I would say its better to not let people touch your dog at this point," a Boise veterinarian said.

BOISE, Idaho — Over the weekend, a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York tested positive for COVID-19. Zoo officials there said the tiger likely caught the coronavirus from a sick employee, but that does that mean house pets are at risk for contracting the coronavirus?

Dr. Paul Calle, the chief vet at the Bronx Zoo, said everyone there was shocked by the test results but added that the risk of animals getting COVID-19 or contributing to the pandemic is low.

Tad Squires, a vet at Hendrick's Veterinary Hospital in Boise, shared those sentiments but added that there's a lot that we don't know about the coronavirus. 

He explained that owners of any pets should take extra precautions and limit their pet's interactions with other people outside of their household and not just sick people as people infected with COVID-19 can be asymptomatic.

MORE: Tiger at New York City's Bronx Zoo tests positive for coronavirus

Squires said that a pet's fur coat can also offer extra protection.

"The virus probably won't live very long on the fur coat because it's more of a rough surface, it will destroy the virus rapidly, as for how rapid that is I don't know, it doesn't live as long as it would on a smooth surface, having said that because we don't know a lot about the virus," he said, "I would say its better to not let people touch your dog at this point."

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Squires also said people shouldn't forget to clean their pets' harnesses and leashes.

If your pets do begin to act abnormally, like not eating, being lethargic, or vomiting, you should bring them to a vet, as they are still open and are considered essential businesses.

However, Squires added that most clinics have scaled back their operations and are only taking essential visits and surgeries to limit how much PPE that they use so there is more available for local hospitals.

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