We’re almost a year into a global pandemic and starting to find out a few answers about this ever-changing virus. Here’s what pet owners should know about Covid-19.
1. Yes. Dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, and hamsters can catch Covid-19.
Several research studies of pets in homes where a family member has had Covid-19 have confirmed that pets can catch Covid-19 from their humans. Most of these pets are not sick, and their infections are only found because of lab testing. A few of them show mild respiratory signs that don’t require treatment. Overall, it is very rare that a pet shows significant illness, but ferrets are the most susceptible of our pet species. Some mink, which are closely related to ferrets, have died from the illness.
What about other pets? Thus far, birds and reptiles do not seem susceptible, but that may change in the future as more testing occurs. Zoos have seen big cats and gorillas infected with the virus.
2. Can pets spread Covid? Maybe.
In laboratory settings, certain animals have spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus to others of the same species housed together. Cats, ferrets, and hamsters infected with the virus should be considered contagious to other cats, ferrets, and hamsters. Dogs do not seem to spread the virus to other dogs.
Most importantly, pets do NOT seem to be able to spread the virus back to people. No pet to person transmission has been documented at this time.
3. What should pet owners do?
Thankfully, you can protect your pet the same way you are protecting everyone else in your family. Follow CDC guidelines
by wearing a mask, washing hands frequently, and continuing to social distance to decrease your risk of catching Covid-19.
Testing pets for Covid is only available with approval from the State Veterinarian or through university research studies. If someone in your household has Covid and your pet is showing respiratory signs, please call us.
If you have Covid:
- Minimize your contact with your pets while you are infectious (usually 10 days from when symptoms appeared or when you tested positive, but follow your local health guidelines).
- Wear a mask, and avoid kissing or hugging your pet.
- Wash hands frequently.
- Keep cats indoors, and keep dogs away from social situations like boarding, grooming, day care, or dog parks.
If your pet tests positive for Covid:
- Isolate the pet away from other pets and people.
- Use bowls and bedding for that pet only.
- Do NOT use disinfectants or sprays on your pet.
- You should wear a mask and gloves while around your pet – but your pet should not wear a mask.
- Clean and disinfect the room just as you would for a person in isolation for Covid.
Pets who test positive for Covid should be isolated until they test negative, or at least 14 days from a positive test. You do not need to relinquish a positive pet – they can rejoin the family after their period of isolation just like a person with Covid.