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Concerned about whether your pet can get the Coronavirus?

We all have concerns about our own health during the pandemic, but you may also wonder if pets can get the Coronavirus? We guide you through the most recent advice and what steps to take if you think your pet may be affected.

What is a Coronavirus?

Coronavirus is the name given to members of a family of viruses with similar characteristics. These viruses are named ‘corona’ as they are surrounded by an envelope which appears to glow like the corona surrounding the sun when viewed under a microscope.

Can cats and dogs get Coronavirus?

Yes. Coronaviruses are found in a wide variety of animals, both domestic and exotic. They cause canine coronavirus gastroenteritis in dogs and Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) in cats.

Birds, mice, pigs, cattle and turkeys all have specific diseases caused by coronavirus. Coronavirus is associated with respiratory infections in humans. 

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new disease caused by a coronavirus not previously found in humans. COVID-19 is an abbreviation of “coronavirus disease 2019”.  The name given to this new virus which causes COVID-19 is SARS-CoV-2, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus number 2. It is thought that this coronavirus previously existed in an animal reservoir but has now jumped to humans and is spreading person to person.

It appears that for the majority of people the symptoms of COVID-19 may be mild. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Can cats and dogs get COVID-19?

There have been a few reported cases of pet cats and dogs catching COVID-19. It is a rare occurrence, and these pets have only shown mild clinical symptoms which lasted a few days. Symptoms pets with COVID-19 may have include:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lethargy (unusual laziness or sluggish)
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Eye discharge
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

How can I protect my pet?

In the few cases where cats and dogs have become infected by COVID-19, there was close contact with an infected human, or shared airspace. There is currently no evidence of COVID-19 spreading between pets or transmitting from cats and dogs to humans.

Government advice is to wash your hands before and after any contact with your pet, their food or bedding. Animal fur can carry the COVID-19 virus for a short period of time, in the same way as other surfaces. There is no evidence to say that you should wash your pet to control the spread of the virus.

If you are self-isolating, then you should limit your contact with animals, for further details please read our blog

What should I do if I suspect my pet has COVID-19?

If you are concerned that your pet has developed any of the symptoms listed above, you should contact your vet. If your pet has been in contact with a person who is self-isolating or has had a positive COVID-19 test result, please inform your vet who will decide whether your pet needs to be tested.

Examination of the cat on the table at the vet

Written by Lindsay Rose MA VetMB CertAVP CertVBM MRCVS

Visit our blog to discover advice and tips from our vet team. 

*Guidance taken from British Veterinary Association (BVA), UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO) on 2nd Aug 2021.