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Pets and COVID19

COVID-19 and Your Pet – Penn Vet Tips


Here are some facts and tips to keep in mind regarding COVID-19 and your pets. These tips were developed by our microbiology experts:

  • Dr. Shelley Rankin, Professor of Microbiology, Head of Diagnostic Services, and Chief of Clinical Microbiology
  • Dr. Stephen Cole, Assistant Professor of Clinical Microbiology, and Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Microbiology (Bacteriology/Mycology, Immunology)

Download the 'Pets & COVID-19' Tip Sheet (PDF)

  • What causes COVID-19?

    The virus that causes COVID-19 is SARS-CoV-2. It spreads by droplets when sick people cough and sneeze.

  • What can you tell me about the SARS-CoV-2 virus and pets?

    The SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads from human to human. There is no research to support human to animal spread at this time.

    People infected with SARS-CoV-19 should limit contact with their pets. Do not let them lick you. Make sure you wash your hands after you touch your pet. Dogs and cats can carry organisms that can make you sick like Salmonella and Ringworm. That is why it is always important to wash your hands after each interaction with your pet.

  • I heard that pets get coronaviruses, is that true?

    Yes, but not the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Coronaviruses (which is a big family of viruses) can be found in many animals but the vast majority do not infect people.

    There are two types of coronavirus that infect dogs. They have been known for a long time. The first virus affects the stomach and intestines. Dogs lose their appetite, may vomit and have diarrhea. The second virus affects the respiratory system. Dogs may have a dry cough and runny nose. Cats can be infected with feline coronavirus which can cause a syndrome called feline infectious peritonitis. There is no evidence that these dog and cat viruses can infect people.

    It is important to know that these are NOT the same as the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

  • What about the infected dog in Hong Kong?

    We need to do more research. That dog had the virus BUT WAS NOT SICK. It is an isolated case and should not be over interpreted. To see more from the CDC on pets and COVID-19, please visit:
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#2019-nCoV-and-animals

  • I’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, what should I do with my pet?

    People infected with SARS-CoV-19 should limit contact with their pets. Do not let them lick you. Make sure you wash your hands after you touch your pet. Dogs and cats can carry other organisms that can make you sick like Salmonella and Ringworm. That is why it is always important to wash your hands.

  • Does my pet have COVID-19?

    If you do not have COVID-19, then your pet most likely doesn’t have it either. We have no research to the contrary. The CDC said there is no reason to think that pets are a source of infection.

    It is however, important to include pets in your family’s preparedness planning. Make sure that you have enough pet food, cat litter, and your pet’s medications, to last at least two weeks. If you think your pet has an infectious disease, you should contact a veterinarian.

    For more information on preparing for your pet, please visit:
    https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pet-disaster-prep-kit.html

  • Benefits of owning a pet

    When we are scared, our pets can comfort us. Remember how important they are to you. Owning a pet is not a risk factor for COVID-19.