Can Dogs and Cats Contract the COVID-19 Strain of Coronavirus?

The wide spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus has the world on alert as the virus continues to infect people throughout the globe. After my husband alerted me to an article where a dog in Hong Kong that belongs to an individual infected with COVID-19 tested for low levels of the virus in its nose and mouth, I decided to do some research on the impact of the virus on companion animals. As a professional pet sitter, it is of utmost importance that I protect myself and the families that I service from any possible contagion.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recent strain of coronavirus. Bats are said to be the carrier of this newly discovered strain. The new virus was unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China. The most common symptoms are fatigue, dry cough and fever. Some people can be infected but asymptomatic and about 80% of people will recover without needing any special treatment. Approximately one in six people will become seriously ill; the elderly and people with underlying health issues are at greater risk (World Health Organization).

Can Dogs and Cats Contract COVID-19?

At this point in time, researchers have not discovered any evidence that pets can be infected by COVID-19, the current strain of coronavirus. Now, keep in mind that there are many strains of coronavirus that do affect different animals; Pigs get porcine coronavirus, birds get avian coronavirus, cows get bovine coronavirus and horses get equine coronavirus. Dogs can become ill from canine coronavirus disease (which is a totally different strain than COVID-19), but it cannot be transmitted to humans. Cats can be infected with some coronaviruses (again, not COVID-19) and may exhibit very mild flu-like symptoms or none at all, but do not pass the virus on to humans.

What, If Any Precautions Should Pet Owners Take?

Unless you are infected with coronavirus or live in an area where it is spreading, there are no specific precautions that you need to take regarding your pets and the virus. If you do live in an area where the COVID-19 is spreading or you are infected with it, you may wish to limit contact with your pet. Limit areas where it may be possible for your pet to come in contact with the virus and keep all surfaces sanitized. The World Small Animal Vet Association advises to wear a protective face mask around your pet and others to avoid spreading the virus. Keep your dog or cat inside as much as possible if you live in an area where COVID-19 is spreading.  Frequent hand washing is so important and should be a regular practice in your lifestyle, virus outbreak or not!

Careful planning and researching on your own can reduce the fear and misconceptions regarding COVID-19 or any infectious disease. Be sure that your information comes from reliable sources that verify where they find their information. Contact your vet with any serious concerns about your pet’s health. It is always helpful to have emergency supplies on hand in case of any serious threat to your household’s health and/or safety. Most importantly, don’t panic but do stay informed!

Have you or anyone in your family been personally affected by COVID-19? We would love to read about your experience in the comments!

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Furry Footsteps Professional Dog Walking and Pet Sitting in Ypsilanti MI
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  1. Thanks fo sharing. We get asked this question quite frequently.

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