COVID-19 and Pets: Can my Dog or Cat Get Coronavirus?

COVID-19 and pets

When COVID-19 became such a big part of our lives, there were a lot of questions, many of which went unanswered.

Since then, scientists have studied and researched the virus. As days and weeks pass, we continue to get new answers to questions about protecting ourselves and our loved ones, including our pets.

Today we’ll answer the following questions about COVID-19 and pets:

Can my cat or dog get COVID?

Yes, cats and dogs can contract SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

According to the CDC, “A small number of pet cats and dogs have been reported to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 in several countries, including the United States.” 

Most of the pets who have tested positive for COVID-19 lived with a human who also tested positive for the virus. That suggests pets can catch COVID from humans

Study reports ...

"Cats—including cheetahs, leopards, tigers and lions—are likely to be susceptible to the virus. So are ferrets. Dogs, bears, pigs, chickens and ducks are not."

What is the incubation period for COVID in pets?

An incubation period is the time between exposure to the virus and the first appearance of symptoms. The average incubation period for COVID-19 in pets, like humans, is 5 - 6 days, but can range between 1 and 14 days.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 in pets?

If your pet has COVID-19, he may have the following symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite

Like humans, symptoms can be mild to severe or completely absent altogether. 

Is COVID contagious between pets?

According to the World Organisation For Animal Health, cats can easily catch COVID and transmit it to other cats via respiratory droplets and feces. The virus doesn’t seem to replicate as rapidly in dogs, which makes it less likely they’ll become infected. Dogs are also less likely to transmit the disease to other animals, including humans. 

Researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS, published a study in which authors claimed, “A single genetic change in the host receptor for the virus inherited in cats, but not dogs, correlates with feline susceptibility.” That was back in July 2020.

As of February 2021, the total reported cases of COVID in cats was 115. In dogs, it was 81. Clearly, more studies are needed to understand if (and how) animals are affected by COVID-19.

Does COVID transfer between species?

Humans can spread COVID to their pets. But, while cats can spread COVID to other cats, most animals do not spread the virus to other animals outside their species.

Again, more research is needed in order to make definitive claims about how COVID-19 spreads among animals.

What to do if your pet tests positive for COVID-19

If your pet has COVID, take the following precautions:

  • Track your pet’s symptoms
  • Keep him at home except to get medical care
  • Call your vet and keep her updated on how your pet is doing
  • Tell your vet right away if your pet is having trouble breathing
  • Isolate him away from other pets in the house
  • Wear gloves when cleaning the litter box or using doggy bags
  • Clean and disinfect areas where you pet spends the most time 

Let your pet rest and watch his symptoms carefully. If his condition worsens, call your vet. Be prepared to take your pet to an emergency clinic if your vet instructs you to do so.

How to prevent pets from contracting the COVID virus

If you, or anyone in your household or social circle show symptoms of COVID-19, keep your pets safe by avoiding the following:

  • Letting them lick you
  • Kissing them
  • Cuddling with them
  • Letting them sleep in your bed
  • Sharing food
  • Letting them sit on your lap

Other ways to prevent transmitting the virus to pets include:

  • Frequent hand-washing
  • Have someone else take care of them
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Wear a mask

While you’re isolating, your pet should also isolate, just in case, to avoid further transmission.

Stay safe, stay healthy.