Can COVID-19 Spread between People and Pets?
Ask PHP Pete!
Dear PHP Pete,
With all the precautions being taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), I am concerned about my pet’s health. Is it possible for my pet to share the virus with me? Is it possible for me to give it to my pet? Are there precautions I should take during this time?
Dear Worried Sick,
COVID-19 is one of many coronaviruses. Coronaviruses are named for the corona (crown) shaped spikes on their surfaces. They can infect wild and domesticated animals as well as humans.
While it is very rare for a coronavirus to cross over between species, there have been several notable exceptions, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and the current COVID-19 virus. Each of these viruses is thought to have originated in bats before traveling through another animal host to humans. For example, SARS is connected with the masked palm civet and MERS with the camel. The intermediate host (if there is one) for COVID-19 is unknown at this time.
The primary means of transfer is direct contact between humans.
Can My Pet Give Me COVID-19?
There is no evidence at this time that suggests that COVID-19 can be transmitted from pets to people. As an extra precaution, you may want to avoid having your pet come into contact with people and pets outside your household–unless of course a veterinary visit is needed. Maintain social distancing as you would with other people.
Can I Spread COVID-19 to My Pet?
It is not likely. The testing of animals is limited at this time. So far there have been no reports of pets showing symptoms of the virus, although two dogs have tested positive for COVID-19 (sometimes viruses can be carried without symptoms).
If you have COVID-19 (or are ill in general), try to limit contact with your pets:
- If you can, have another person care for your pets while you are feeling ill
- Wear a facemask when interacting with your pet
- Practice safe handwashing techniques (see below)
General Precautions You Can Take
- Wash your hands at least 20 seconds with soap and water before and after handling your pet(s), their supplies, or their waste. This is also a good practice in general to avoid other illnesses including Salmonella and coli infections.
- Protect your pets from more common viruses by keeping up with their vaccinations. There is currently no vaccination for COVID-19.
- If you (or your pet) are ill, avoid handling your pets if possible. This includes petting, snuggling, kissing, being licked, and sharing food.
All of us at Pet Health hope you stay safe and well!
A Note of Correction, April 8, 2020:
While the information in this article was–to our knowledge–accurate at the time of publication, there have been many recent discoveries regarding what species are able to contract COVID-19, and whether they may contract it from a human source. As of today, for instance, new evidence shows that ferrets may contract it from humans. However, there is currently no evidence that suggests ferrets or other animals can spread the disease to humans.
As mentioned in the article above, the best course of action is to take as many precautions as possible. Follow the General Precautions listed, and if you think you may have COVID-19 take further measures to protect your pets from being exposed. Consult your veterinarian as soon as possible if you have any questions or concerns.
PHP Pete and the Staff at Pet Health and Women’s International Pharmacy, Inc.
- COVID-19 Coronavirus and Pets. Oregon Veterinary Medical Association. http://www.oregonvma.org/care-health/zoonotic-diseases/coronavirus-faq. Accessed March 2020.
- Animals and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/animals.html. Accessed March 2020.