Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, there have been multiple reports of pets catching the virus. Here’s everything you need to know about protecting your furry friends and yourselves from infection
Pets are invaluable companions for most of us, and have been especially important over the past two years. But can your furry best friend catch the Covid you’re trying to avoid?
Research throughout the pandemic has shown that both domestic pets and wild animals can catch the coronavirus.
The World Health Organization for Animal Health said: “Now that Covid-19 virus infections are widely distributed in the human population there is a possibility for some animals to become infected through close contact with infected humans.”
While a 2021 study suggested that it’s common for cats and dogs to catch Covid from infected owners, there is limited evidence to show that owners can catch the disease from their pets.
Can I get Covid from my pet?
In the UK, Covid has been found to spread from human to human, but there is little evidence of it spreading the other way round – from pets to humans.
The risk of the pets getting sick from the virus and passing it onto humans is low, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The FDA have reported that only “a very small number,” of pets around the world have positive for Covid, and an even smaller number have gotten very sick from it.
In terms of symptoms, the CDC has warned that dogs and cats have Covid symptoms that are similar to humans including fever, cough, difficulty breathing, sneezing, runny nose, diarrhoea and vomiting.
Do I need to wash my pet to control spread of Covid?
If you’re worried about catching Covid from your pets, avoid close contact with them including kissing, petting, snuggling or sleeping in the same bed as your pet. But, the CDC warns that you should not put a mask on your dog or cat.
The health body added that you shouldn’t “wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or other products,” including hand sanitiser and other cleaners. There is also no evidence that the virus spread through the fur of your pets.
What to do if you think you’ve got Covid
If you’re experiencing symptoms of Covid, it’s best to take a test and self-isolate for 10 days if you test positive.
The British Veterinary Association’s (BVA) advice for pet owners diagnosed with Covid is:
If you are unwell and worried about passing anything onto your pet, wash your hands before stroking them and wear a mask while being close to them
If your pet shows signs of illness, don’t take it to the vet if its non-essential, call the practice for advice instead
If your pet requires emergency treatment, call the practice for further advice. Do not take your pet to the surgery unless the vet instructs you to. You may need to arrange for someone else to transport your pet for treatment
Don’t take your dog for walks if you’ve been infected. Either let it out in your garden or ask someone else – who is fully vaccinated and Covid negative- if they can walk the dog for you