Public Health

Can Dogs Get COVID-19?

Alyssa Corso
Alyssa Corso24 Aug 2021

We know the coronavirus COVID-19 originated from animals and you may have heard about a few dogs and cats testing positive. So could our cats and dogs get coronavirus, and even spread it to other animals? If so, what are their symptoms? And is this something to be worried about?

This article covers recent updates, tips, and guidance regarding animals contracting COVID-19. At this point, there is no evidence that animals can transmit coronavirus to humans.  

Can Dogs and Cats Get Coronavirus From a Human?

According to the World Health Organization, coronavirus COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets. According to the information available to date, the likelihood of these droplets causing the infection is higher when people are in close contact with each other. However, there is limited information regarding this topic.

Although coronavirus is not currently considered a health threat to your pets, there is still a slim chance that a dog or cat can contract the virus and test positive. Dogs and humans have many of the same types of receptors on their cells; therefore, the virus could theoretically attach to these receptors in dogs as well. There have been a few accounts of dogs and cats testing positive for COVID-19, but the chances of this happening and the health risks are very low at this point.

Can Dogs Give You Coronavirus? 

Although it is accepted that the COVID-19 pandemic originated from an animal in China, there is currently no evidence that animals in the United States are spreading coronavirus to people. Therefore, there is no reason to be fearful of catching COVID-19 from exposure to your pet or another animal.

During the SARS outbreak in 2003, where over 280 people died in Hong Kong, there were similar fears regarding the spread of coronavirus by pets. While it is true that dogs and cats get coronaviruses, typically they are different viruses than COVID-19, said Jane Gray, Hong Kong SPCA's chief veterinary surgeon. The strains that dogs and cats typically get don't cause respiratory problems and will not be transmitted to humans.

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Should I Quarantine My Pet?

No, you do not need to quarantine your pet if you and everyone in your household are healthy. This is only beneficial to test how animals are affected by a newly found disease, not in common situations. However, if you recently tested positive for COVID-19, it is recommended by The American Kennel Club that you isolate from your pet to avoid transmitting the virus to your dog or cat.

Many pet owners in central China equip their pets with tiny face masks, but there's little advantage to that in fact, it's can be even more distressing for the pet and could cause them to show clinical signs of induced mental conditions. Animal owners should stick to the basics: proper hygiene. 

WHO advises owners to wash their hands with soap after handling pets. If the dog owners are especially worried, they should clean the paws of their dog with antiseptic wipes after having had a walk outside but they should be careful not to overdo it.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that we do not allow our pets to come into contact with other humans or animals outside the household for the time being and limit our own contact with other people. If a person in your home becomes infected with COVID-19, it is important that he or she isolates from all other people and animals to be cautious of them becoming sick with COVID-19.


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It is not necessary to quarantine your pet for COVID-19

Can Veterinarians Test for COVID-19 in Pets?

Yes. The College of Veterinary Medicine's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory recently acquired the necessary equipment to screen for the current COVID-19 in dogs. Testing for humans is prioritized over pet testing at this time. Your vet can also monitor the symptoms your pet may be experiencing in order to evaluate the likelihood that your pet has contracted COVID-19.

Though the test may be available, it could be costly as there is a limited capacity at labs - some may also be at max capacity due to other demands. Contact your vet to see the availability of these tests and how much they may cost.

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What Are The Symptoms for Coronavirus COVID-19 in Dogs?

Most dogs who contract COVID-19 either experience mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. No dogs have died from COVID-19 as of August 2020. The following are possible symptoms that may indicate your dog has coronavirus: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sneezing, runny nose, low energy (lethargic), eye discharge, diarrhea, eye discharge. If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, call your vet to come up with a plan. 

What Should I Do If My Dog Tests Positive for COVID-19?

The CDC has written a set of recommendations if your pet contracts coronavirus. If your pet tests positive, it is suggested that you isolate your pet from everyone in the household, including other pets. Although there is no evidence that dogs can transmit COVID-19 to humans, this is suggested as a precautionary measure as there is limited research in this area.

Don't panic - no dogs have died from COVID-19 and most dogs only experience mild symptoms, if any. You should proceed by calling a veterinarian for suggestions regarding how to treat and care for your pet. If your dog is ill or tested positive for COVID-19, you should follow some guidelines until regular activity is approved by a veterinarian:

  • Do not take your dog to any stores, shopping areas, or dog parks where they may interact with other humans or dogs
  • Do not take your dog to schools or any healthcare facilities
  • Do not take your dog to the groomer
  • Do not allow dog walkers or pet sitters to come into contact with your dog

It is important that you do not allow your dog or cat to interact with other animals while they have COVID-19, as it is currently not known how the virus is transmitted between animals. When taking your dog out, try and stay close to home or in a private backyard/area. If your cat tests positive for COVID-19, do not let them outside your home until cleared by a veterinarian.

So what about the Pomeranian dog in Hong Kong... and other zoo animals testing positive? 

The dog who tested positive for infection with COVID-19, who remains in quarantine, has not shown any clinical signs of the coronavirus infection. It‚s also one of the only dogs that has shown this test result. Also, keep in mind that dogs are not known to be able to transfer coronavirus to humans. 

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The case of weak positive in a Pomeranian

Therefore, no need to fear the furry animals in your home. Be sure to just wash your hands with soaps frequently, and take care of yourself and your loved ones. If you have a history of exposure and are showing symptoms of coronavirus, you may be able to meet the CDC criteria for testing and should seek testing.

While the cats are the first known pets to test positive in the U.S., a handful of tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo have tested positive for the virus as well. 
While the virus appears to be transmissible from humans to animals, scientists say they have thus far not seen evidence indicating animals can pass it on to people. Scientists in Hong Kong drew similar conclusions after a dog tested positive earlier this year. We don't want people to panic. We don't want people to be afraid of pets, said Casey Barton Behravesh, a CDC official who works on human-animal health connections, adding that people should not rush to get their pets tested. There's no evidence that pets are playing a significant role in spreading this disease to people.

Alyssa Corso

Alyssa is a Senior Marketing Associate & Content Writer at Mira. She is passionate about educating others on how to affordably access healthcare.