SARS-CoV-2 in animals

Small white dog sitting on owner's lap in parked car while owner checks in to veterinary clinic on his phone

Since the initial outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), there have been numerous reports of animals becoming infected with the virus. Although the outbreak is over, the disease is now endemic in people, meaning the risk remains of animals becoming exposed to the virus.

There’s still a lot to learn about how SARS-CoV-2 affects different animal species, but the primary domestic animals that have been infected are cats and dogs. Other susceptible pets may include ferrets and hamsters.

Several non-domestic animal species have been diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection as well, including these:

  • Animals in zoos, sanctuaries, and rehabilitation facilities, particularly big cats like lions, tigers, and snow leopards; gorillas; and otters
  • Mink on mink farms
  • Wild white-tailed deer and mule deer 

See a full breakdown of U.S. animals with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection

The good news is there’s no cause to worry. Overall, the chance of people catching the virus from an animal is far less than the chance of us catching it from another person. What’s more, some simple preventive measures can help protect animals from catching SARS-CoV-2 from us.


More resources


Additional information for veterinarians

In the United States, the decision to formally test any animal for SARS-CoV-2 is made using a one health approach. Veterinarians who strongly suspect a patient is infected are advised to contact their designated public health and animal health officials within their jurisdiction, such as state public health veterinarians and/or state animal health officials. The USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories perform confirmatory testing, and the results are reported online. Confirmed cases are then reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH). 

For more information on testing, reporting, and managing animals with SARS-CoV-2, check out the USDA's and CDC’s resources on the topics.