Since the initial outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, there have been numerous reports of animals becoming infected with 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. These species are not easily infected under natural conditions, and there is no evidence that infected cats or dogs spread the virus to other animals or to people. Non-domestic animal species have been diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 as well, but evidence suggests that these infected animals also pose little risk to humans—even to handlers and caretakers in close contact—when appropriate personal protective equipment is used.
As veterinarians, we have responsibilities to care for the health and welfare of animals while also mitigating the risk to ourselves, our teams, our clients, and the general public. For pet owners, preparing in advance is key to keeping the whole family safe. The following resources can help pet owners plan for their pet’s care in the event that the owner or the pet is infected with SARS-CoV-2:
It is important to remember that there is no evidence at this time that animals play a significant role in spreading SARS-CoV-2. Accordingly, there is no reason to remove pets from homes where COVID-19 has been identified in members of the household, unless there is risk that the pet itself is not able to be cared for appropriately. Pets and people each need the support of the other, and veterinarians are there to support the good health of both.