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Humans, Pets, and COVID-19


Compiled by Nancy Brannon, Ph.D.

In addition to your horses, if you have dogs, cats, and other pets at home, you may be worried about the coronavirus being transferred to human to pet or vice versa. Dr. Marty Reed of North Shelby Animal Hospital, Millington, TN, informed us that the “American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has a really good up to date page for COVID-19 for veterinarians/staff and animals. They try to keep it as up to date as possible. There is information on what to do should a person in a household with a pet become positive.” Here is a link to their website with the information:

Origin and spread: “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) was first detected in China. The betacoronavirus that causes COVID-19 is SARS-CoV-2 … appears to have its origin in bats.”

SARS-CoV-2 in animals, including pets: “It appears that dogs and cats are not readily infected with SARS-CoV-2; we have little to no evidence that they become ill, and no evidence that those that may be naturally infected spread SARS-CoV-2 to other pets or people. Out of an abundance of caution and until more is known about this virus, if you are ill with COVID-19, you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just as you would restrict your contact with other people.

“For responsible pet owners, preparing in advance is key. Make sure you have an emergency kit prepared, with at least two weeks’ worth of your pet’s food and any needed medications …in case of quarantine or self-isolation when you cannot leave your home.”

This section goes on to describe a few rare cases where animals have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

There is also a truncated literature review of research papers looking at the possibility of cats and other animals becoming infected. The AVMA stresses: “Nothing in these research articles provides conclusive evidence that cats, ferrets, or other domestic animals can be readily infected with SARS-CoV-2, nor do they demonstrate that cats, ferrets or other domestic animals transmit the virus under natural conditions.

“Despite the number of global cases of COVID-19 surpassing the one million mark as of April 2, 2020, we have only seen examples of two dogs and one cat in Hong Kong, and a tiger in New York that had positive results of tests for infection.”

In general, “the AVMA’s recommendations regarding SARS-CoV-2 and companion animals” are:

·       Animal owners without symptoms of COVID-19 should continue to practice good hygiene during interactions with animals. This includes washing hands before and after such interactions or handling animal food, waste, or supplies.

·       Out of an abundance of caution, and until more is known about the virus, those ill with COVID-19 should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just as you would restrict your contact with other people. 

·       There have been no reports of pets or livestock becoming ill with COVID-19 in the United States. At this point in time, there is also no evidence that domestic animals, including pets and livestock, can spread COVID-19 to people.

You may want to refer to this website periodically, as updated information may be available. Thanks to Dr.Marty Reed for the reference to this valuable source of information. Visit North Shelby Animal Hospital at:

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