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 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 is currently no evidence that Covid-19 can infect pets, nor that it can be transferred from pets to humans. The main route of spread is from person to person.

There have not been any reports of animal illness linked to Covid-19. A dog with a Covid-19 infected owner has tested weakly positive for the virus; however, this may be due to environmental contamination rather than a true infection multiplying within the dog. Although there are no reports of animal illness, it is recommended that people ill with Covid-19 limit their interaction with animals until more is understood about this disease.

*Guidance taken from British Veterinary Association (BVA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO) on 2nd March 2020

Examination of the cat on the table at the vet

Written by Lindsay Rose MA VetMB CertAVP CertVBM MRCVS

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