Can My Dog or Cat Catch Coronavirus Disease COVID-19?

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As a concerned pet parent, reading about coronavirus disease COVID-19 might prompt you to wonder about the risk of infection between you and your pet. 

At this time, there is no evidence that pet dogs, cats, food, or food packaging have been a source of infection to other animals or humans.  

Here's what else you might need to know about coronavirus and COVID-19 in dogs and cats.  In particular, we note that the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has issued a very helpful advisory document available at WSAVA Advisory Document which is regularly updated, and could assist in answering questions, including a specific Q&A.

What Types of Coronavirus Affect Humans?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are seven coronaviruses that can infect people. Four types occur commonly all over the world and cause symptoms similar to those caused by the common cold. The other types of human coronavirus are more serious and include the new SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19.

Signs of coronavirus in humans are similar to those seen in people with influenza, including fever, loss of energy and coughing. More serious infections can cause pneumonia and other severe health issues.

Close-up of a beagle sleeping.

Should I Be Worried If My Pet Is Coughing?

If your pet is coughing, has a fever, is lethargic which are signs similar to those caused by COVID-19 in humans, please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian, as pets can have other diseases that could impact their health, includinginfluenza, kennel cough feline upper respiratory infections, heart failure, bronchitis, pneumonia and heartworm disease — just to name a few. Some of these may be caused by other viruses, but what's important to know is that these viruses or diseases are not associated with COVID-19 and there is no evidence, according to the CDC, of the spread of canine influenza virus to humans.

Can Humans Transmit COVID-19 to Their Pets?

The CDC says they haven't received any reports of animals with COVID-19. The American Veterinary Medical Association also notes that "multiple international and domestic health organizations have indicated that pets and other domestic animals are not considered at risk for contracting or spreading COVID-19." The WHO states that “to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19.”

To be on the safe side, if you've tested positive for COVID-19, the CDC recommends restricting your contact with people and animals. This means you shouldn't share food with your pet; pet, snuggle or kiss them; or let them lick you. If possible, have someone healthy care for your pet while you're sick. If you must care for your pet, wear a face mask and disposable gloves and wash your hands before and after touching them. 

Gray cat with yellow eyes lays on a white blanket in human bed.

Coronavirus in Dogs and Cats

Coronavirus is a family of viruses. The name comes from the virus's appearance under a microscope. It's surrounded by rings of proteins that look like the sun's crown, or corona.  

Dogs and cats can be affected by other types of coronavirus specific to them and that cause other diseases such as kennel cough, respiratory infections, and gastrointestinal issues. What's important to know is that none of these viruses are associated with COVID-19 and none of them are contagious to humans.

What Else Do I Need to Know About COVID-19?

Here are some final things to note about the disease:

  • Human-to-human spread of COVID-19 has occurred in numerous countries.
  • While there is no vaccine against COVID-19 nor any antiviral medicine currently available, the majority of cases are mild and symptoms are similar to those of a cold or seasonal flu.
  • At this time, there is no evidence that you can pass COVID-19 to your pets, or that your pets can pass it to you.
  • Good hygiene and hand-washing can greatly reduce the chance of contracting and transmitting the disease.

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