Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Your Pets

Can I get it from my pets?

Here is what the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) says:

Key Points

  • We do not know the exact source of the current outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), although we know it started at a live animal marketplace.

  • At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19, and it is transmitted person to person.

  • Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.

  • We are still learning about this virus, but it appears that it can spread from people to animals in some situations.  This is based on the case of a tiger and other animals at the Bronx Zoo.

Can I give it to my pets?

The short answer is that it appears to be possible, but not likely.  Scientists found traces of coronavirus in a Pomeranian dog in Hong Kong. Following confirmation that the dog’s owner was positive for the virus causing COVID-19, the dog was taken from Hong Kong Island to a nearby animal quarantine facility. Subsequent tests performed on swabs collected from the dog’s nose and throat unexpectedly revealed coronavirus.

Whereas SARS-CoV-2 has the limelight at present, there are actually many different types of coronaviruses, and coronaviruses infecting dogs is nothing new. The first coronavirus to be reported in dogs was back in 1974

Although canine coronaviruses are distinct from SARS-CoV-2, dogs are clearly susceptible to this family of viruses. Despite this, there are no previous instances of human coronaviruses infecting dogs or vice versa. For a virus to jump species, there are several hurdles they must overcome.

Practical Precautions with Your Pets

It comes down to treating your pets like everyone else in your lives.

Until we know more, CDC recommends the following:

  • Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.

  • Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.

  • Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals.

  • Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.

If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed by a test), restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would around other people.

  • When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick.

  • Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding.

  • If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.

Can I get my Pet Tested for COVID-19?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) today announced the first confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) infection in two pet cats. These are the first pets in the United States to test positive for SARS-CoV-2.

The cats live in two separate areas of New York state. Both had mild respiratory illness and are expected to make a full recovery. SARS-CoV-2 infections have been reported in very few animals worldwide, mostly in those that had close contact with a person with COVID-19.

At this time, routine testing of animals is not recommended by the CDC and therefore is not publicly available.