COVID-19: What are the Risks for Pets?

A letter from Our Shelter Medical Director, Dr. Tomomi Lager, DVM

Fluffy and Fido are not a threat.

Though there have been fewer than 25 pet positive cases globally, there is no evidence so far that our pets can transmit this Coronavirus to us. There is also no evidence that objects associated with pets, such as collars, leashes, food or water dishes, can be fomites for COVID-19. To this point, the only cases where animals have contracted COVID-19 have been when they were in contact with a virus-positive human. All evidence suggests COVID-19 being much better adapted to thrive in humans than in other species. To date, all transmission has been human-to-human only. Although it is very unlikely that a person would contact COVD-19 by petting or playing with a pet, it is always a good idea to wash hands before and after interacting with pets.

Can pets get sick from COVID-19? Can infected pets transmit the disease to other pets?

There have been 6 pets diagnosed with COVID-19 in the United States, but all pets have completely recovered. A summary of cases of COVID-19 infection in pets is available (here) if you wish to learn more. It is a good idea to practice a recommended safety guidelines when handling pets of people who are known to be infected, especially cats or ferrets. A new study found that infected cats (but not dogs) could transmit virus to other cats via respiratory droplets (transmission between ferrets was not tested). If your pet is exposed to a person with COVID-19 and becomes sick, please talk to your veterinarian and limit your pet’s interaction with people and other pets.

Can veterinarians test for COVID-19 in pets?

Currently, routine testing of pets for COVID-19 is not recommended and the decision to test an animal should be made collaboratively between your veterinarian and local, state, and /or federal public health and animal health officials. If you would like to find more information about testing of our pets for COVID-19, please click here.

Is it safe to adopt an animal from a shelter?

Yes. To date, no COVID-19 infected cases has been found in shelter pets. During this pandemic emergency, pets and people each need the support of the other.

For additional information on COVID-19 and pets, we recommend these articles:

Two helpful tips to always do:

  • If you are free from COVID-19-related symptoms, good hygiene should be practiced around your pet, with hand washing before and after contact and feeding.
  • Continuously practice social distancing during walks and hiking.

And, one more important thing to keep in mind: Information and recommendations may change as our understanding of the virus and associated disease evolves, so be sure to visit: regularly for new information.

Stay healthy & safe,
Dr. Lager