Compassion-First Veterinarians say there is still no Evidence to Suggest that Pets can Spread COVID-19 to People
Apr 07, 2020
In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, pet owners and hospital teams continue to have questions and concerns about whether pets can be infected by the virus and whether infected pets can transmit the infection to people. Based on current knowledge, there is no evidence to support active infection in dogs or cats with transmission to people.
Pets of corona-virus infected owners have been tested on a very limited basis in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Belgium. Two dogs (Tokyo) and one cat (Hong Kong) have tested positive but did not show clinical signs and a cat in Belgium tested positive (with respiratory signs not confirmed to be caused by Coronavirus). A tiger at the Bronx Zoo has also tested positive with the virus. Risk for transmission from owners to pets is very low; and, no transmission from pets to humans has been suggested. IDEXX sampled 3,500 pets for COVID-19 infection (dogs, cats, horses) from all 50 U.S. states and South Korea and found no positive samples.
Other questions of concern from pet owners include whether pet fur can be contaminated with COVID-19 (act as a fomite) and then transmit infection to humans. Pet fur is porous and not considered an ideal environment for the virus; risk for human transmission is very low. But, best practices for handwashing before and after pet contact is recommended. Keeping pets separated from family members who are infected and need to be quarantined is also important.
Frequently asked questions about pet owner safety during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found below:
Elizabeth (Liz) Lund, DVM, MPH, PhD Stacy Burdick, DVM DACVIM (SAIM)
VP, Veterinary Informatics Clinical Advisor
4/24/2020: Update from Drs. Liz Lund and Stacy Burdick
It has been seen in recent news that two domestic cats in N.Y. state tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) infection. Given previously reported positive tests from pet cats in Hong Kong and Belgium as well as a Malayan tiger at the Bronx zoo, the results this week from N.Y. are not surprising.
There continues to be no evidence to support active infection in dogs or cats with transmission to people. And, there is no recommendation to begin testing for SARS-CoV-2 in pet dogs or cats.