Can cats and dogs spread coronavirus? (updated)

coronavirus in dogs
Photo via Sean Biehle/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)
  • Coronavirus can be spread via animals such as bats and pangolins
  • Scientists have found that it can infect cats, but dogs are less likely
  • It’s highly unlikely that your pet can spread COVID-19 to you

It’s been speculated that the novel coronavirus originated from bats and pangolins in China, but it’s been proven that cats and dogs can be infected with the coronavirus. However, according to Nature magazine, pet owners shouldn’t panic. It’s highly unlikely that your cat or dog will give you coronavirus because they do not secrete enough of the coronavirus to infect humans. 

Nature also reported that there are currently only three reported cases of animals contacting coronavirus: two dogs in Hong Kong and a cat in Belgium. On April 4, though, it was reported that one of the tigers at the Bronx Zoo in New York City had tested positive for COVID-19. The Malayan tiger, named Nadia, is believed to be the first animal living in the U.S. to test positive, and it’s theorized that she was infected by a zookeeper who showed no symptoms of the virus. 

On April 22, it was reported that a pair of cats living in separate parts of New York state had tested positive, the first time a pet had been known to be infected in the U.S. The animals seemingly only have mild symptoms and are expected to recover. Six days later, it was noted that a dog in North Carolina named Winston had experienced and had already recovered from the coronavirus.

On May 13, a study was published that showed that cats can spread the coronavirus to other cats but not to human. None of the felines in the study, though, showed any symptoms and all of them recovered.

The CDC reports that the large family of coronaviruses can infect dogs and cats as well as other animals, but not every coronavirus can infect people.

While you should think about whether it’s appropriate to get your pets groomed during the pandemic, the risk of your cat or dog contracting coronavirus and transmitting it to others in the household is extremely unlikely, especially for those already practicing social distancing.

On July 31, it was reported that Buddy, the first dog in the U.S. to receive a positive coronavirus diagnosis, had died. It was unclear whether Buddy had died from COVID-19 or from the lymphoma he might have had.

Sources: Nature, CDC, BBC, NBC News

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