Your pet can also get COVID-19

key takeaways

  • Humans can spread COVID-19 to pets and animals, including cats, dogs and deer.
  • If more animals continue to contract the virus, it could prolong the pandemic, experts say.
  • Following general health protocols and getting vaccinated are the best ways to prevent transmission.

Animals can also contract COVID-19 through close contact. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk of animals transmitting COVID-19 to humans is low, and it is extremely rare for pets to become seriously ill from the virus.

Andrew Bowman, DVM, PhD, MS, associate professor of veterinary preventive medicine at Ohio State University, told VigorTip that the risk of pets transmitting COVID-19 to humans is a “currently unquantifiable risk.”

“It’s definitely happened, but I don’t think we have enough information on how likely it is to happen,” Bowman said. Possible ways to mitigate it. ”

There have been reports of animals contracting COVID-19 around the world, from companion animals such as cats and dogs to others such as hyenas and white-tailed deer. Most of these animals became infected after contact with COVID-19 patients, including owners and caregivers.

“For the most part, we see fairly limited disease in these animals. That’s not to say that those animals that are infected aren’t sick or very sick,” Bowman said.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, as of March 2021, 115 cats and 81 dogs worldwide were reported to have contracted COVID-19.

In the United States, the latest data from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) found that 110 cats and 95 dogs had reported infections. The agency also reported confirmed cases in 51 tigers, 49 lions and 14 gorillas.

What does this mean for the pandemic?

While cases in domestic pets and other animals are rare, experts believe the spread of infection to other species could expand the pandemic.

Penn State virologist Dr. Suresh Kuchipudi told VigorTip that if the virus continues to seek other hosts to survive, it will be nearly impossible to find the virus and complicate the control of COVID-19.

“As we’ve seen with deer, they can get from people and from each other, but we don’t know who else they’re going to transmit to,” Kuchipudi said. “This creates a complex transmission network in which the virus can continue to spread and change, leading to more opportunities for the virus to evolve and re-enter the population.”

Researchers are also concerned that the widespread spread of the virus, especially in deer, could lead to more mutations and the risk of developing new variants. They can keep variants that are no longer circulating in humans now, and allow them to return later.

The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine said no cases of COVID-19 infection in livestock have been recorded. While the CSU researchers deliberately infected livestock — including cattle, sheep, goats and horses — no animals were found to transmit the virus through the nose, mouth or rectum. This suggests that livestock are unlikely to transmit COVID-19 to humans. Additionally, the USDA has not confirmed any cases of COVID-19 in livestock.

Based on current information, livestock are not good hosts for the virus, Kuchipudi said. “For cattle and pigs, the virus cannot efficiently bind to these animals and infect their cells,” she said.

How do I know if my pet has COVID-19?

According to the CDC, pets infected with the virus may experience symptoms such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing, runny nose, eye discharge, vomiting and diarrhea.

“In some cases, we may not know because they may not have any symptoms, but in many cases dogs and cats have been infected and show signs of coughing and respiratory symptoms,” Kuchipudi said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most of the sick pets have only mild illness and make a full recovery.

If your pet has the virus, the CDC recommends calling your veterinarian to discuss the best treatment options.

More research and research must be done to better understand other animals susceptible to the virus and the risk of animal-to-human transmission.

Lyndsay Cole, assistant director of public affairs at APHIS, told VigorTip in an email that the USDA has received funding to answer many questions about COVID-19 in animals that are still unknown.

Cole said USDA experts are still working to understand how the virus behaves in various animals and what we can do to disrupt the chain of transmission.

Kuchipudi added that the best way to control and prevent transmission from humans to other animals is to follow general COVID-19 protocols, such as wearing masks, isolating when exposed, and vaccinating against COVID-19.

“People must do their part to mitigate the spread of the virus,” Kuchipudi said. “Getting vaccinated and taking other measures are critical not only to other humans, but to our beloved animals and the environment. ”

what does this mean to you

Humans can spread COVID-19 to their pets through close contact. Sick pets have only mild illness or complete recovery.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means that you may have updated information as you read this article. For the latest updates on COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus news page.