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Can dogs get Covid? Everything we know about coronavirus symptoms and infections in pets

Covid-19 cases have become a major concern for the public once again.

Hundreds of thousands of people are becoming infected each week, which means some pets may be at risk too.

But can a dog get Covid, and if so what happens? Here’s everything you need to know.

Can Covid spread from people to animals?

Yes, there have been cases where animals have caught Covid.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States says: “The virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals during close contact.

“Pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19.”

Infected animals reported to the CDC include:

  • companion animals, including pet cats, dogs, and ferrets
  • animals in zoos and sanctuaries, including several types of big cats, otters, non-human primates, a binturong, a coatimundi, a fishing cat, and hyenas
  • mink on mink farms
  • wild white-tailed deer in several US states

You can find the latest Government guidance on how to continue to care for animals.

The CDC says: “If you are sick with Covid-19 (either suspected or confirmed by a test), you should avoid contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would with people. Contact includes petting, snuggling, kissing, licking, sharing food, and sleeping in the same bed.”

More from Health

Can dogs get Covid?

Yes dogs can catch the virus, but again it is rare.

The UK reported its first case of a dog catching Covid in November last year.

The Government said that the evidence suggested the animal got it from its owners who had previously tested positive.

The advice from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is for people to wash their hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.

Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: “It is very rare for dogs to be infected and they will usually only show mild clinical signs and recover within a few days.

“There is no clear evidence to suggest that pets directly transmit the virus to humans. We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will update our guidance to pet owners should the situation change.”

You are advised to wash your hands when handling pets and avoid close contact if you have Covid.

What are the symptoms in pets?

The CDC says: “Pets infected with this virus may or may not get sick. Of the pets that have gotten sick, most only had mild illness and fully recovered. Serious illness in pets is extremely rare.”

It adds that animals with the virus may have:

  • fever
  • coughing
  • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • lethargy (unusual lack of energy or sluggishness)
  • sneezing
  • runny nose
  • eye discharge
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

If you think your animal has Covid you should call your veterinarian.

The British Veterinary Association says: “If you suspect your pet has contracted coronavirus your vet will need to rule out other causes for their symptoms first.

“Government advice is that owners of pets in households with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, who think their pet may need veterinary treatment, should make contact with the practice first and alert them to the household’s status.”

Can Covid spread from animals to people?

More study needs to be done, but scientists do not think humans catching Covid from animals is a major risk.

The CDC says that at the moment there is no evidence “that animals play a significant role in spreading SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, to people”.

But it adds that “More studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by SARS-CoV-2.

“Some coronaviruses that infect animals can be spread to people and then spread between people, but this is rare. This is what happened with SARS-CoV-2, which likely originated in bats.”

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