COVID-19: Coronavirus & Pets FAQ


What are coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause a range of symptoms, including a runny nose, cough, sore throat and fever. Some are mild, such as the common cold, while others are more likely to lead to pneumonia. They're usually spread through direct contact with an infected person.

The coronavirus gets its name from the crown-like spikes on its surface (“corona” in Latin translates to “crown”). The genus coronavirus is composed of at least three groups that cause mild to severe enteric, respiratory, or systemic disease. Other well-known coronaviruses are SARS and MERS.

Are there coronaviruses that affect animals?

Coronaviruses are common in several species of domestic and wild animals, including cattle, horses, dogs, cats, ferrets, camels, bats, and others.

Did this coronavirus spread from animals to humans?

Although not common, coronaviruses can be transmitted from animals to humans. Bats can be reservoir hosts for viruses which can cross species barriers to infect humans and other domestic and wild mammals.

In the last two major coronavirus outbreaks that were transmitted to humans, transmission occurred through intermediate hosts: the masked palm civet (SARS) and dromedary camels (MERS).

Can my pet contract COVID-19?

A very small number of companion animals have been reported to be infected with the virus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19 after close contact with people who had COVID-19. It's important to remember that viruses can sometimes infect a species but not cause illness in that species, nor become transmissible to others. COVID-positive people can potentially pass the virus to their companion pets such as cats, dogs, ferrets and hamsters, although the illness in pets is typically mild.

Can my pet infect me with COVID-19?

Per the CDC, "At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, such as dogs and cats, can spread COVID-19 or that they might be a source of infection in the United States."

It has been shown that infected mink can infect humans, which is why biosecurity is important at mink farms.

As a matter of everyday health, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets to help avoid transmission of more common illness-causing agents, such as E. coli and Salmonella.

What should I do if I am sick with COVID-19? Or suspect that I may be?

Out of an abundance of caution, restrict your contact with pets and other animals, just as you would with other people. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. Avoid direct contact with pets, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask if directed to do by your physician.

What should I do if my pet needs veterinary care?

If your pet needs veterinary care, please call your veterinarian or emergency clinic to find out how they are handling patient care at this time. Many are offering curbside service or telemedicine options.

To protect your pet from respiratory diseases, vaccinate your pet for Bordetella, parainfluenza and canine influenza, which are the most common vaccine-preventable respiratory diseases in pets.

Your veterinarian can help you determine which vaccines your pet should have, based on its risk factors.

Should my pet wear a face mask when in public?

No. To protect your pet from respiratory diseases, vaccinate your pet for Bordetella, parainfluenza and canine influenza, which are the most common vaccine-preventable respiratory diseases in pets.

Can I take my pet's ivermectin to prevent or treat my COVID-19 infection?

No! Do not use ivermectin, an ingredient found in some parasite prevention medications, intended for animals as treatment for COVID-19 in humans. While there are approved uses for specific formulations of ivermectin in both people and animals, it is not approved for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. You should not take any medicine to treat or prevent COVID-19 unless it has been prescribed to you by your health care provider and acquired from a legitimate source.

What is the best way to protect myself and my family (human and pet) from the COVID-19 coronavirus?

Practical measures to protect yourself and your family include:

  • Get vaccinated.
  • Wear a mask when in public spaces (following local ordinances) and follow social distancing requirements.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%-95% alcohol.
  • Avoid contact with sick people and stay home if you're sick.
  • If you become ill with the COVID-19 coronavirus, please wear a well-fitted mask to help prevent the spread of the virus and limit contacts with other humans and your pets as recommended by your physician.
  • Pre-arrange for someone to care for your pet if you become sick or require hospitalization. Stock at least 2 weeks of food and medicine for your pet.
  • If you know older/elderly people, or others who cannot go out due to health issues, we encourage you to check in with them to make sure they have necessary food, medications and supplies, including for their pets.

Updated: 2021-10-26 07:00:00

Compiled with information from Oregon's Public Health Veterinarian, WHO, AVMA, CDC and OIE.