Researchers at the University of Calgary are part of a task force to determine if household pets can contract and spread COVID-19.
Dr. Rebecca Archer, clinical instructor of small animal medicine at U of C’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine said that based on research and case reports to date, dogs are not easily infected, however, cats, ferrets and hamsters are more susceptible to the virus.
“But keep in mind, in these more susceptible species the infection is usually mild and the animals recover,” added Archer.
She noted that while many pets have been tested, only two cats, two dogs, and one tiger, all with known exposure to people with COVID-19, have proved to be positive.
There is currently no evidence of cats, dogs or other domestic animals infecting humans said Archer. She says that while the virus likely originated in a wild animal host, the virus adapted to transmit easily from human-to-human.
“It’s important to understand that the spread of this pandemic is being driven by person-to-person contact.”
The researchers are part of a task force organized by animal and human infectious disease experts at the U of C. The group reviewed the limited research available to date on COVID-19 and domestic animals. They also examined past and current research on other coronaviruses and opinions from experts in the field of infectious diseases that spread between people and animals.
The U of C researchers recommend that anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or anyone who has symptoms such as dry cough or fever, should protect their pets and other members of their household the same way.
“Physically distance yourself from your pet while you are sick, and practice the precautions recommended for people, including frequent hand washing and coughing or sneezing into your arm,” advises Dr. Archer.
Archer also recommends frequent hand washing, especially after handling their pet’s food, food bowls and other pet supplies.
“I want to emphasize that you do not need to give your pet up for adoption if you have COVID-19,” said Archer. Animals can be a great comfort during these stressful times and provide us with many health benefits.”
The researchers also advise people with concerns about their pet’s health to contact their veterinarian. They recommend the following credible sources for updated information: