Coronavirus and Your Pets

Can Your Pet Get COVID-19?

You may have heard that coronaviruses can infect animals and wondered whether your pets could get COVID-19 -- or pass the virus to you

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and some, like canine and feline coronaviruses, infect only animals.

In rare cases, a coronavirus jumps from animals to humans. This is thought to have happened for the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as two other types of deadly coronaviruses, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). All three originated in bats. 

Can dogs get the coronavirus?

There are a few reports of dogs being infected. Experts believe that the pets caught the new coronavirus from close contact with people who had it.

Can cats get the coronavirus?

A few cats have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 after they came into contact with people who were infected. They include pet cats and zoo animals.

Early studies have found that cats are the animals most likely to catch the new coronavirus. They can also show symptoms of COVID-19 and might be able to pass it to other cats.

Are any other types of pets at risk?

Ferrets can catch the coronavirus and might give it to other ferrets. But poultry and pigs don’t appear to be at risk.

Can I Get Coronavirus From My Pets?

There’s no evidence that pets can spread COVID-19 to people or that they might be a source of infection.

Can My Pet Get Tested for Coronavirus?

If your pet is sick, your veterinarian will check for more common conditions first. The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises against wider animal testing for the coronavirus. Local, state, and federal officials will decide whether a pet needs a COVID-19 test and choose a specialist to do it. Talk to your vet if you have questions or concerns.

How to Protect Both You and Your Pet

If no one in your house has symptoms of COVID-19, you don’t have to do anything different. You can go for walks with your pets, feed them, and play with them.

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It’s fine to touch your pet’s fur. The virus is more likely to survive and spread on countertops and doorknobs, while pet fur is thought to absorb and trap germs.

Just remember that all animals can still carry other germs that can make you sick. So it’s important to practice good hygiene with them. This will also reduce any risk of spreading COVID-19. Here’s how:

  • Wash your hands after you pet them, feed them, or handle their waste.
  • Get rid of their poop, whether it’s in the house, yard, or another public spot.
  • Don’t kiss them or let them lick you.
  • When your pet comes in from outside, wipe their paws with a paw cleaner or paw wipes.
  • Clean their food and water bowls, bedding, and toys regularly.
  • If your pet seems sick -- for example, with a hacking cough -- call your vet. There are other diseases, like "kennel cough," that can cause coughing and wheezing.
  • If you can, take walks with your dog. Exercise is important for both humans and canines. Check local rules to make sure certain spaces, like hiking trials and parks, are open and that there aren’t curfews. Follow social distancing measures by walking your dog in less-crowded areas.

What to Do If You’re Sick

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, stay in a separate room away from others. This includes pets.

Have someone else in your home take care of your pets. If you live alone, wash your hands before and after you feed them. Don’t pet, hug, or kiss them or let them lick you.

You can snuggle safely with them again once:

  • It’s been at least a week since your symptoms started.
  • Your symptoms are better.
  • You’ve had 3 days in a row of no fever without using fever-reducing medicines.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on June 03, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

CDC: "COVID-19 & Animals," "COVID-19 Situation Summary," "Adopt These Healthy Pet Habits," "What to Do If You Are Sick," “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): If You Have Animals.”

American Veterinary Medical Association: "COVID-19," “SARS-CoV-2 in animals, including pets.”

American Kennel Club: "Can Dogs Get Coronavirus?"

Animal Humane Society: "Respiratory Disease in Canines."

World Organisation for Animal Health: “Questions and Answers on the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).”

U.S. Department of Agriculture: “FAQ on Companion Animal Coronavirus Testing.”

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