Can dogs and cats pass on coronavirus (COVID-19)?

25 June 2020

Find out how to best take care of your fur-baby, and how the coronavirus affects cats and dogs.

Dog and woman with face mask

Coronavirus news. It’s everywhere. But as a pet parent, you probably want to know, “what does this mean for my little buddy?” Don’t worry. We’re here to tell you if cats and dogs can get Covid-19 or pass it on. That, plus answers to other questions that can give you more peace of mind.

Can pets get Covid-19?

Despite early reports, it’s now clear that cats and dogs can be infected by Covid-19. However, it doesn’t seem to happen often, and is even rarer among dogs. And the good news, according to the CDC, is that all reported cases have been mild or without symptoms.

Oh, and there’s another little (tiny) piece of good news – it looks like mice are not in danger of being infected.

How to tell if my pet might have Covid-19?

It can be hard to spot Covid-19 due to its symptoms being quite similar to the cat flu, as well as the fact that many cats and dogs experience a symptom-free version. That being said, there’s currently no special treatment recommended for four-legged friends. You can check some do’s and don’ts here, but the best thing to do is to consult your vet.

Did you know? Researchers in Dortmund are currently working on an electronic “Dog Nose” that can sniff out Covid-19. It’s a device with sensitive, dog-inspired sensors that can tell from your breath if you might have the virus.

Can dogs and cats pass the virus onto humans?

There’s currently no definitive evidence that pets can infect people. However, in theory, it’s not impossible – many scientists think the virus originally came from wild animals.

However, the WHO still recommends washing hands with soap and water after contact with house pets, just to be on the safe side. That also can protect you from nasty bacteria like Salmonella or E-Coli.

It’s rare, but dogs and cats can get Covid-19. Transmission from pets to humans has, until now, not been observed.

We know it’s tough, but this means it’s best to resist the urge to cuddle and comfort your furry friend in case they’re sick.

Do I need to tell someone if my dog or cat has Covid-19?

The discussion so far has, understandably, been focused on humans and Coronavirus. But it’s also worth considering what it means for our four-legged friends. For example, there’s talk in Germany about whether to make it mandatory to report a positive test. That would mean a veterinarian would have to notify the relevant authorities. The belief is that this would give experts a clearer picture of infection risk among animals.

For now, no other country seems to be trying out a similar approach – but it’s something we’re keeping our eye on.

dog and coronavirus

What to do if I need to isolate myself?

As a dog parent, it’s good to prep ahead for your four-legged friend as well as for yourself. Here’s some advice from RSPCA UK:

While you are ill another member of your household will need to take care of your animals and they will need to follow good hygiene practices washing their hands thoroughly after contact and any of their items e.g. bedding, food bowls.

If you’re living on your own, or need support outside of your household, it’s best to designate friends, family members or neighbors who can help in advance. But if that’s not an option, you can look into trustworthy pet sitting sites like Petsit or Pawshake. Community Facebook groups are also worth looking into.

Need support? You can always contact animal charities like ASPCA or Dog’s Trust UK to get some guidance.

Don’t forget: Have all your dog or cat’s medication and diet needs, veterinary details – and any other important information – all in one place so you can share quickly if needed.

Do pets need to go into isolation as well?

Ideally, yes, but we know that’s not necessarily possible for most pet parents. That being said, some veterinary facilities offer isolation units. As with humans, the isolation period is 2 weeks.

How to entertain your dog indoors

Been told you need to stay at home? That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Plus, it gives you some one on one time with your four-legged buddy, which is good for both of you. Have fun teaching your dog new commands indoors, and keep your dog entertained with these 10 tips. Staying busy and doing things together will keep both of you in a better mood and is great for your well-being.

We’re always doing our best to keep this guide up to date. However, this is a fast-moving topic, so it could be that it takes a bit before we add new information – this also lets us make sure it’s accurate, safe and helpful to you.

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