How COVID-19 Can Affect Your Pet
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's been reported that various animal species have also caught the virus. They became infected after coming in close contact with their owners, caretakers or zookeepers.
While it's not clear exactly which species in the animal kingdom have caught the virus, we do know that the following have:
- Domesticated dogs, cats, hamsters and ferrets
- Zoo animals such as otters, primates, hyenas, hippopotamuses and some big cats, including lions, tigers and snow leopards
- Minks (on farms and wild)
- Deer, black-tailed marmosets and giant anteaters
What to Do If You're a Dog Owner With COVID-19
Pet owners who have tested positive for the virus (or are sick but have yet to test) should practice similar distancing protocols that they would with other humans to avoid spreading the virus to their pets.
As much as seeking comfort from your dog during an illness sounds like a good idea, you can do more harm than good. Avoid contact and don't pet, snuggle or kiss your dog. Don't share food with them, and don't let them sleep in your bed.
COVID-19 Symptoms in Dogs
Dogs may or may not show symptoms of COVID-19. Of those that have shown symptoms, most were only mildly ill and have fully recovered. Serious illness and death have occurred, but this is very rare.
Dogs with COVID-19 may have a fever, a cough or respiratory issues, including difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. They may sneeze, have a runny nose or have discharge from their eyes. They may lack energy and be lethargic. Vomiting and diarrhea are also symptoms.
Can a Dog Transfer COVID-19 to Its Owner?
The chances a dog will spread COVID to their human are low, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Gail Golab, the AVMA’s chief veterinary officer said, "Porous materials, such as pet fur, tend to absorb and trap pathogens, making it harder to contract them through touch."
Nevertheless, you should wash your hands after petting a dog — that's just a common rule of hygiene, according to Dr. Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer for the American Kennel Club: "If you have children, you wouldn’t have them touch a puppy and put their fingers in their mouth because they can have fecal contamination."
What to Do If You Think Your Pet Is Sick
Contact your veterinarian if you believe your dog has COVID-19. If you're sick at the same time, do not take the dog in — call your vet's office to let them know your situation. Some vets do remote consultations when treating sick animals.
Depending on your pup's symptoms, the doctor may suggest you isolate your pet, which means keeping them at home and away from other animals. You should follow the same precautions you would when caring for a sick person.
Monitor your pet's symptoms during home isolation. If you think your dog has new symptoms or they get sicker, another call to your veterinarian is in order. Follow all your vet's instructions and keep a written log of your pet’s symptoms.
Ending Your Dog's Home Isolation
Your vet will advise you on when it's safe for your dog to be around animals and people — usually, when they haven't shown symptoms for at least 72 hours without medical care, it's been 14 days or more since their last positive test and they've tested negative since.
Is There a COVID-19 Vaccine for Dogs?
While the rates for pets catching COVID-19 seem to be equal to that of humans, there is no urgent need for a vaccine, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The agency, which approves vaccines, states that "data do not indicate that such a vaccine would have value ... Companies are still free to do research and development on these vaccines, but without a license, they can't sell or distribute it."
William Karesh, executive vice president for health and policy at EcoHealth Alliance, added, "Dogs don't play an important role in the maintenance or transmission of the disease to humans. There's no need for a vaccine from a public health standpoint."