People may have questions regarding COVID-19 and family pets. Currently, there is little evidence that COVID-19 can be spread from humans to family pets and no evidence that it can be spread by family pets to people. Here is what we currently know regarding pets and COVID-19:
Ferrets: Ferrets have been shown to be susceptible to COVID-19 infection according to some small studies. But only some of the ferrets involved in the studies showed symptoms such as fever and loss of appetite. It is important to note that these studies have not yet been peer-reviewed and the ferrets were infected in a laboratory and not a home setting. People who have ferrets in their family are advised to wash their hands both before and after handling their ferret.
Cats: Like ferrets, cats have also been shown to be susceptible to COVID-19. Two cats in New York have tested positive for COVID-19 and have been showing mild symptoms of respiratory disease. The two cats are from two different New York households. One of the households had a COVID-19 infected family member, while the other did not so it is believed that the cat was infected by the virus being carried into the house in some manner. It’s believed that these are the first two cases of domestic cats being infected with COVID-19 in a home setting. Cats have also previously been shown to be susceptible to COVID-19 in a laboratory setting through scientific experiments which have not yet been peer-reviewed. While not a domestic house cat, a tiger named Nadia at the Bronx Zoo in New York tested positive for COVID-19 in early April 2020 and became very ill. Three other tigers and three lions at the Bronx Zoo also became ill. It is believed that the tigers and lions were infected by humans. All of the cats – both the domestic cats and the tigers and lions – are expected to recover.
Dogs: There were reports in the earlier days of the pandemic that two dogs in Hong Kong (but members of two different and unrelated families) tested positive for COVID-19. Both cases were reportedly human-to-animal transmission. But it is important to note that in both cases the dogs did not display any signs of illness after being infected. In late April 2020, a dog in North Carolina tested positive for COVID-19. The pug named Winston was exposed to COVID-19 through infected human family members. A second dog, a cat and a lizard in the same family all tested negative for the virus. Winston, like all animals reported to date who have tested positive for COVID-19, is expected to recover.
If you fall ill with COVID-19 symptoms, please limit contact with your pets as much as possible or have someone else care for your pets while you are in quarantine.