In the early days of the COVID-19 “pandemic”, the CDC was fairly confident that household pets could not be infected with Covid-19. We now know that reports exist of several cats and dogs contracting the illness.
Here’s what we know:
Dogs, cats, and minks have tested positive for COVID-19 following prolonged contact with infected humans.
On 2/26/2020 a person in Hong Kong was hospitalized with COVID-19. His dog was then placed in quarantine and tested for the disease which came back positive. The dog never showed any clinical signs of the disease and was released back to its owner upon testing negative after being quarantined. (1)
There’s also another case from Hong Kong on 3/18/2020 in which an owner with COVID-19 had two dogs, one tested positive, the other did not. Neither dog showed any clinical signs of the disease. (2)
With the information we have so far, it seems that dogs do not necessarily get sick from COVID-19. Household cats, on the other hand, are another story.
Household cats do seem to show clinical signs of the disease. There are two cases in the United States. One where a COVID-19 positive owner of two cats had one of her cats test positive for the disease.
The other case was a cat from a home that allowed it to go outside in an affected neighborhood. Both cats had clinical signs that included sneezing and ocular discharge. As of April 22, 2020, both cats were clearing the infection and expected to fully recover. (3)
So now we know that our household pets are at risk for this disease, the question is, how do we protect them?
In all of these cases, it seems these were human to pet transmissions and all of the animals lived. However, if you or someone in your household contracts COVID-19 it is very important that you self-isolate not only from other humans but from your pets as well, unfortunately. We know they love to comfort us in sickness and in health, but in this case, it’s just not safe to allow them to do that.
If you’re walking your dog, it’s best to social distance your dog from unknown humans. Do not let strangers pet your dog or bend down into their face. For some dogs, this is absolutely no problem but for others, the really friendly ones, this is going to be an adjustment for them. Be patient with them. If someone wants to pet your dog, kindly let them know that social distancing applies to your pet as well.
As of right now, there is no indication that dogs pass the disease to each other. Cats, on the other hand, have shown in preliminary studies that they are not only the most susceptible but that they can pass it to other cats, as well. Ferrets also seem to be susceptible and capable of transmitting the disease to other ferrets but less so than cats. (4)
According to the World Organization for Animal Health, “The main transmission of this disease is human to human. To date, there is no evidence that companion animals play a significant role in spreading the disease. Therefore, there is NO justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare. (4)
All in all, common sense in this situation is your friend. Prolonged contact seems to be the key for transmission so if you are feeling ill, avoid contact and self-isolate. If you ARE ill, have another member of the family care for your pets. If you are known to have COVID-19, keep your pets indoors, and avoid contact.
We will keep an eye on this situation over the next weeks and bring you any new developments via our website. Sign up for our e-newsletter to stay up to date!