Humans May Infect Pets with COVID-19

If you’re infected, someone else should care for your pets

A study from the University of Geulph looked at the pets of owners who had been ill with or tested positive for COVID-19. Swabs from 17 cats and 18 dogs were taken within two weeks of a confirmed coronavirus infection or symptoms in their owners. They took blood samples from eight cats and 10 dogs whose owners had been diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infections within the past 14 days. The eight cats were believed to have had a respiratory illness about the same time their owners were ill. Two of the dogs had antibodies in their blood and one had a respiratory illness.

From the report in HealthDay: “These preliminary results suggest that a substantial proportion of pets in households of persons with COVID-19 become infected,” says Dr. Dorothee Bienzle, a professor of veterinary pathology at the University of Guelph.

So far, all scientific evidence suggests transmission from people to their pets and not the other way around. To our knowledge, the only situation in which an animal is suspected of having served as a source of COVID-19 infection in people is during outbreaks in mink farms in both Europe and the United States. This evidence leads to the recommendation that if someone is sick with COVID-19, a different member of the household or a friend should take care of the pets.