The virus that causes COVID-19 has had an enormous effect on people since its emergence in January of 2020. Concerned pet owners want to know – does COVID affect pets the same way it does people? Can cats and dogs even get COVID-19? Our understanding of the virus that causes COVID-19 continues to evolve, but pet owners can rest assured: serious illness in pets from COVID-19 is rare. Here’s what you need to know about pets and COVID.

Cats and Dogs Can Get COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports a small number of pets who have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 – mostly after close contact with a person who is infected with the virus. Human-to-animal transmission of the virus is possible, but it is also preventable. While testing among pets isn’t truly widespread enough to study trends, the CDC reports that most pets have only mild symptoms and fully recover. 

Because we know that transmission of COVID-19 is possible from humans to animals, it’s important to protect your pets from infection. Despite the fact that the virus can be transmitted from humans to animals, the CDC reports that transmission from pets to people is extremely rare. This is likely because the virus isn’t transmitted from the hair, skin, or fur of pets but rather through droplets they may exhale into the air.

Keeping Your Pet Safe

If cats and dogs can get COVID-19, how do we keep them safe? Here are some tips on protecting your pet from infection:

  • Do NOT Mask Your Pet. While masks have proven effective at lowering transmission rates between people, they can prove dangerous to pets. Pets may eat masks or strings holding masks to their faces, causing severe digestive system issues. Masks also pose a strangulation risk for pets.
  • Keep Your Pet Away From Potentially-Infected People. The best protection against infection and transmission of COVID-19 is to ensure that everyone in your household is vaccinated. Keep your pets away from people who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who engage in risky behaviors that increase their chances of infection.
  • Isolate Pets and People When They’re Sick. If you or your pet do become infected with COVID-19, isolate and be cautious when caring for the sick party. Be sure to wear a mask and gloves when caring for your pet, and re-assign pet care duties to a healthy housemate if you become sick. Avoid contact such as snuggling, kissing, or hugging your pet while you’re sick, and always wash your hands before and after handling your pet.

COVID-19 Symptoms for Cats and Dogs

In many ways, cats and dogs suffer similar symptoms as humans when infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. These include:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Unusual laziness or sluggishness
  • Sneezing
  • Runny Nose
  • Eye discharge
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you notice any of these persistent symptoms, contact your veterinarian right away. Veterinarian clinics and animal hospitals can test and diagnose your pet with COVID-19 and give you a treatment plan and other advice on how to care for your pet.

Caring for a Pet with COVID-19

If your pet has a positive test for COVID-19 and is experiencing symptoms, keep them well-hydrated and clean. Do not use disinfectant wipes or other cleaning products – they may harm your pet! Follow your veterinarian’s instructions for keeping your pet comfortable and treating your pet’s symptoms. Remember to protect yourself by avoiding any kissing, cuddling, or snuggling and by wearing a mask and gloves while caring for your pet. 

Bowman Road Animal Clinic is Here for You

If you suspect that your pet has been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, contact your veterinarian immediately. Call Bowman Road Animal Clinic for a consultation and advice on how to care for your pet. Our caring, professional team is here for you – no matter what is ailing your pet or causing you concern!