Coronavirus in pets

isolated cat and dog

Overview

  • The coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illness in humans and animals. Some types of coronavirus can pass between humans and animals, but most do not.
  • Covid-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that is currently causing flu-like symptoms in humans across the world.
  • There is some evidence to show that pets in very close contact with an infected person can become infected with the Covid-19 virus, but there is no evidence to show that it can cause them to become unwell or that they can spread it further.
  • We advise all pet owners to maintain good hygiene practices while looking after their pets, and please read our ‘self-isolating with a pet advice’ if you are unwell with Covid-19.
  • For more information on how coronavirus might affect you and your pet check out our advice, guidance and Q&As.
    As always, call your vet for advice if you are concerned that your pet is unwell.

Coronaviruses explained

The coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illness in humans and animals. Some types of coronavirus can pass between humans and animals, but fortunately, most do not.

In humans, coronaviruses cause illness such as the common cold, SARS and Covid-19.

In animals, coronaviruses cause illness such as diarrhoea (‘Type 1 & 2 canine coronavirus’ / ‘Feline enteric coronavirus’), Kennel Cough (‘Canine respiratory coronavirus’) and ‘Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)’. These animal strains of coronavirus are not the same as the the Covid-19 virus.

Can pets catch Covid-19?

There is some evidence to show that pets in close contact with an infected person can become infected with the Covid-19 virus, but there is no evidence to show that it causes them illness or that they can spread it between themselves or back to humans.

The main source of infection for the Covid-19 virus is human-to-human transmission.

At present, there have been two dogs who have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus, both of which had been in very close and regular contact with a person suffering from Covid-19.

  • On 1 March, a dog in Hong Kong tested ‘weakly positive’ for the Covid-19 virus. The dog, who belonged to a Covid-19 positive patient, showed a ‘weakly positive’ test result on several occasions, but had no symptoms of the disease. The dog returned home from quarantine after testing negative for the virus but sadly passed away two days later. Old age was the suspected cause of death - the dog was 17 years old and had underlying health problems.
  • On 19 March a second dog in Hong Kong, belonging to a Covid-19 positive patient, tested positive for the virus. The dog has no signs of being unwell and is being monitored in quarantine. A second dog from the same household has tested negative, is well and is also being monitored in quarantine.

There is no evidence to show that the Covid-19 virus causes illness in pets or that they can spread it between themselves or back to humans.

Can I vaccinate my pet against Covid-19?

No, there is no vaccine available for Covid-19. There is a vaccine that is occasionally used to protect puppies from coronaviruses that cause diarrhoea, but this vaccine doesn’t provide any protection against other strains of coronavirus.

When to contact your vet

Although Covid-19 has not been found to cause illness in pets, it’s always best to phone your vet practice straight away if you are concerned that your pet is unwell.

Hygiene

During this time, we advise all pet owners to maintain especially good hygiene practices when interacting with their pets. Follow the links below for more information:

Updates

  • Pet owners should keep themselves updated on the development of this disease.
  • We will endeavour to keep this page up-to-date as more is discovered regarding the Covid-19 virus.
Last updated: 4pm 24th March 2020

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

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst