Can pets catch COVID-19?

Last updated: 6th July 2022


  • Although it’s extremely rare, there is evidence to show that some animals, including cats, dogs and ferrets can be infected with the COVID-19 virus after close contact with an infected human.
  • Fortunately, most animals with COVID-19 have no symptoms (or just very mild ones), recover quickly, and don’t spread it any further.
  • We are confident that animals don’t play a major role in the spread of COVID-19.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an illness caused by a strain of coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. There are many other strains of coronavirus that cause illnesses such as common colds in humans, kennel cough in dogs, and feline infectious peritonitis in cats.

Can animals catch COVID-19?

Yes, although it’s extremely rare, it’s been shown that certain animals, including dogs, cats, hamsters and ferrets, can catch COVID-19 after close contact with an infected human. However, the virus doesn’t seem to affect animals as severely as it does humans, and the chances of them spreading it is very low. Human-to-human contact is the main way COVID-19 spreads.

Symptoms of COVID-19 in animals

It’s important to remember that COVID-19 is extremely rare in animals, and most either don’t have symptoms, or only suffer with very mild ones, such as:  

  • A cough
  • Sneezing
  • A runny nose
  • Weepy eyes
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Mild breathing problems
  • High temperature
  • Reduced appetite

Contact your vet for advice if your pet has any of these symptoms, but keep in mind that they are all common symptoms of many other conditions (so are unlikely to be COVID-19 related).

Can pets carry COVID-19 on their fur?

There is no evidence to show that viruses such as COVID-19 can spread to people from the fur and skin of pets, so there is no need to wash your pets any more regularly than usual, or with anything other than a regular pet shampoo.

Can I be with my pets as normal if I have COVID-19?

If you have COVID-19, you can minimise the chance of it spreading to people and animals in your household by limiting contact as much as possible.

Can my pet be tested for coronavirus?

Although it’s possible to test pets for COVID-19 it’s not usually necessary because it doesn’t tends to cause significant symptoms. If you’re concerned your pet may have COVID-19, and want them tested, speak to your vet for advice.

Is there a COVID-19 vaccination for pets?

No, there is no animal vaccine available for COVID-19 in the UK and it’s unlikely that one will be needed because the virus is so rare in pets and doesn’t cause severe disease.

Advice for ferret owners

There is to show that ferrets are highly susceptible to the COVID-19 virus and can spread it within their own species. In a small number of cases, mink have be shown to transmit the virus to humans, so there are concerns that it may be possible for ferrets to do the same. If your ferret/polecat/mink/stoat develops any signs of COVID-19 (such as low energy, changes in appetite, respiratory problems or diarrhoea), contact your vet for advice - they may want to test them for the COVID-19 virus.

UK Government guidance for ferret owners:

  • Owners of ferrets, mink, stoat, polecats, and hybrid species, are asked to join the ‘Ferret and other mustelinae register’ so they can be contacted with guidance if there is an outbreak of disease.
  • Ferrets and other mustelid species need to be isolated for 21 days if:
    • They are living in the same household as someone with COVID-19
    • They have been brought in from another country or are returning from travelling outside of the UK

How to isolate a ferret/other mustelid:

  • Keep them away from people and animals from outside of your household
  • Refrain from taking them for walks or using them as a working animal
  • Maintain excellent hygiene by washing your hands before and after touching them
  • Avoid sharing food with them
  • Limit contact with them as much as possible if you have COVID-19

Read region specific advice for ferret owners here:


Does my pet need to wear a mask?

No, there is no evidence to show that pets need to wear masks - wearing one is likely to be uncomfortable and very distressing for them.


PDSA will endeavour to keep this page updated as we find out more about COVID-19.

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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only. Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst.