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Can cats and dogs get coronavirus?

As a pet owner, you might be concerned about whether your cat or dog could fall ill because of Covid-19. We look at what’s known about pets in relation to the disease, to help give you peace of mind.  

As a pet owner, you might be concerned about whether your cat or dog could fall ill because of Covid-19. We look at what’s known about pets in relation to the disease, to help give you peace of mind.  

David Edbrooke
Sub editor
minute read
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Posted 29 JULY 2020

Pet owners and coronavirus

There have been reports worldwide of less than a handful of pets becoming infected with coronavirus. But experts believe it’s unlikely they could become seriously ill from the disease. There are still some sensible hygiene precautions you can take, to keep you and your companion safe. For example, thoroughly washing your hands before and after every walk. 

Has a dog ever caught coronavirus?

According to the Hong Kong government, a Pomeranian and German Shepherd did test positive for the disease. Both are owned by people who had COVID-19. 

Neither pet showed any symptoms of the disease and another, mixed-breed dog also belonging to the German Shepherd owner, has not tested positive.  

Has a cat ever caught coronavirus?

On Monday 27 July 2020, the UK Government announced that a cat in the UK had tested positive for a COVID-19-related virus. The COVID-19 strain was detected in the cat’s test sample at a laboratory in Weybridge, Surrey a few days previously, the Government said. It’s believed the virus was transferred to the cat from its human owners. Both the owners and their cat have made complete recoveries.

Two cats in New York also became mildly ill with coronavirus, according to American news media. Each cat had light respiratory symptoms. Officials from the US Department of Agriculture are expecting the cats to make complete recoveries.

There were also reports of a cat in Belgium testing positive for the virus. The owner had the illness and the cat reportedly became ill but recovered.

Can cats and dogs spread coronavirus to people?

The World Health Organisation has said that currently, there’s no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted by a dog, cat or any companion pet. 
And the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) says that currently, there’s no evidence that companion pets are spreading the illness themselves. 

Also, the UK Government’s Chief Veterinary Officer said on 27 July 2020 that there was still no evidence that pets could directly transfer COVID-19 on to humans.
But it’s possible people could spread the virus to one another via pet fur. For example, someone with coronavirus could sneeze and touch their pet, then someone else could touch the animal in the same place and get the illness. It’s the same as if someone sneezed on a surface and someone else then touched that surface. You should always wash your hands before and after you touch your pets. 

What if I have COVID-19?

To be on the safe side, people with coronavirus are advised to minimise contact with their pets.  
If you are a pet owner who has coronavirus, you should: 

  • wash your hands before and after you touch your pets or their belongings 
  • keep your cats indoors 
  • call your vet for advice if your pet shows any symptoms of the illness or needs treatment for anything else – don’t take them to the surgery
  • You could also check with your pet insurance provider to see if you could qualify for cover under Emergency boarding kennel/cattery. If so, this could be another way of helping to minimise contact with your pet. 

What is feline coronavirus?

Feline coronavirus or FCov has nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a common virus in cats and doesn’t affect people or other types of animals. 

Can I still take my pet to the vet?

Many vet practices have reopened. The British Veterinary Association is advising pet owners to call their local vet surgery if your pet needs treatment, to see if they’re open and what social distancing requirements they’ve put in place.
Remember, a lot of pet insurance products provide you with the use of free vet advice helplines that you could use, too.

What precautions can I take?

Now, as always, it’s advisable to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets. Also, don’t let your pet lick your face. And when you’re walking your dog, make sure you follow social distancing guidelines. 

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Pet insurance could help cover the cost of fees if your cat or dog needs vet treatment for injuries or illness. See what pet insurance can cover.

It could also help with emergency boarding kennel and cattery costs, and it could give you access to free vet advice helplines. 
Please note: The information in this article was correct at the time of publication on 29th July 2020, but, because of the impact of COVID-19, things are changing rapidly. We aim to keep this page updated. But check with your insurance provider or potential provider directly, to confirm any details. 

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