Can dogs and cats get COVID-19?
Yes, dogs and cats can get COVID-19. There have been a small number of pets worldwide that have tested positive for the virus.
A study done by the Univesity of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College tested 48 cats and 54 dogs from 77 different households that had positive human COVID-19 cases. The study showed a higher percentage of cats (almost 70%) than dogs (40%) tested positive for antibodies. The researchers compared this to tests done on shelter animals where only 10% of dogs and cats tested positive. When tested on stray cats the number of positive cases shrank to 3% indicating close contact of pets with positive owners as a major variable in their contraction of the virus.
Over two hundred pets have been tested in the U.S and there is a common occurrence of cats testing positive at a higher rate than dogs, 40% vs 39%.
Per the USDA, dogs and cats account for nearly 80% of all animal infections in the U.S as of July 2021 (182/217 cases). However, these numbers do exclude mink as there have been several mink farms that have had outbreaks during the pandemic.
Why are cats more susceptible to COVID-19 than dogs?
While studies are currently being done, it is most likely that cats are not more susceptible but spend more time in close contact with positive owners. Sharing beds seems to be one major cause of the elevated positivity in cats. Cats that rarely interacted with humans had a decreased chance of contracting the virus.
How do I keep my pets safe from COVID-19?
- To keep your pet safe from the virus make sure to:
- Keep your pet away from other animals as much as possible when out
- Refrain from going to high populated areas with your pets
- Regularly wash their dishes and bedding
- Wipe dogs paws with a gentle cleansing wipe meant for dogs after coming inside
- Keep your pet away from infected people and anmals
- Keep cats inside as much as possible
How is COVID 19 tested in dogs and cats?
Idexx laboratories made a PCR test for COVID available to veterinarians in 2020. However, most veterinarians don’t recommend general or regular testing for pets at this time. Tests are usually only administered if the dog or cat is exhibiting symptoms or suspected of having the virus.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19 in cats and dogs?
In many cases dogs or cats present with no clinical signs or transient symptoms.
If they do get sick they usually only have mild illness and recover fully. The majority of pets are cared for at home and hospitalization or serious illness in dogs and cats appears to be extremely rare.
Some symptoms of the virus in cats and dogs are:
- shortness of breath
- ocular (eye) discharge
- runny nose
If I think my dog or cat has COVID-19 what should I do?
If you believe your cat or dog has Covid-19 call your veterinarian and they will direct you further. If you are sick with COVID-19 do not take your pet yourself as you risk spreading it to other people. Some vets will ask that you come into the clinic (as long as the person bringing them in is healthy) or they may prefer to do a telemedicine consultation.
How do I treat a dog or cat with COVID-19?
- The CDC recommeds caring for pets the same as you would care for an infected person at home and have your pet stay in a designated ‘sick room’
- Those that are fully vaccinated or not at high risk of severe illness from the virus should care for the pet
- Make sure your pet is eating regularly, they may need a bland diet (click here to read about bland diets)
- Have items like pedialyte or electolyte replacers on hand in case your dog has severe vomting or diarrhea
- Wear all PPE, gloves and mask, when treating your pet and handling their dishes, bedding, toys, and feces
- Do not put a mask on your pet, as this can be dangerous
- Keep a record of your pets symptoms so you can know if they are getting worse
- If you are treating at home and notice shortness of breath, contact your vet immediately
- Follow all the care instructions that your veterinarian gives you
- Complete all medication as prescribed, even if your pet starts to act and feel normal
- Wash your hands regularly and disinfect common areas and areas used by your pet Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home
- For multiple cat homes use separate litterboxes for sick and healthy cats
- Keep your pet at home as much as possible, this means no trips to places like the dog park, groomer, or doggy daycare.
- Do not allow your pet to interact with any people or other pets outside the home
Should I separate myself from my pet if I test positive for COVID-19 or vice versa?
If you test positive for COVID-19 you should quarantine and avoid all close contact with your pets, this includes sleeping with your pet and allowing them to lick you.
If you are the sole caretaker for your pets, make sure to put a plan in place prior to contracting the virus. This may include asking a friend or family member to stop by and care for your pets and having self-feeders. If you are unable to have someone else take care of your pet make sure to wear a mask when interacting with them.
Scientists have stated that while COVID-19 can be transmitted from humans to their pets it is far less likely that it spreads from pets to humans easily
If my dog or cat test positive for COVID-19 should I separate him from my other pets?
Yes, you should separate your pet from other pets in your home as they can give. itto them
Should I put a mask on my dog when walking outside?
Do not put masks on pets as masks can be harmful to your pet
Is there a vaccine for dogs and cats?
Scientists are testing an experimental COVID-19 vaccine from Zoetis on zoo animals. While the vaccine may eventually translate to cats and dogs it is not currently regularly administered at veterinary clinics.
Can COVID-19 attach to my dogs fur and come in the house?
The CDC states that there is no evidence that the virus can attach to fur and spread to humans. They advise against using things like hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes on pets and to use shampoos specifically for pets.
How long is quarantine for pets?
If you are treating a dog or cat at home, it’s important to follow your veterinarian’s advice as to the length of time your pet should be quarantined, but the general rule of thumb is that pets can come out of their ‘sick rooms’ if they have not shown symptoms for at least 72 hours without medical management and it has been at least 14 hours since the last positive test
What is Canine Coronavirus?
Canine coronavirus diseases (CCoV and CRCoV) are not the same as COVID-19. CCoV does not affect people and is an intestinal infection usually contracted by young puppies, which is why some veterinarians still vaccinate for it today. The vaccines that puppies get for CCoV will not cross-protect for COVID-19.
Puppies usually get canine coronavirus by eating infected fecal matter but they can also get it from contaminated food bowls or by direct contact with an infected dog.
Which animals get infected with COVID-19?
Several studies are being done to learn which animals can be infected with COVID-19 and how it affects them, so far the virus has been noted in:
- Bank Voles
- Fruit Bats
- Non-human primates (Rhesus macaques, cynomolgus macaques, baboons, grivets, and marmosets)
- Tree Shrew
- White-Tailed Deer
- Mice (were not susceptible to the original strain, but maybe to mutated strains)
It has been shown that many of these animals can spread the infection to other animals of the same species.
Chicks and ducks seem to not become infected
Can dogs detect COVID-19?
Research groups around the world are currently testing dog’s abilities to sniff out COVID-19 in humans. So far the research has met with much success. If you would like to read more about how dogs may be able to detect COVID-19 read our article here.