Can Dogs and Cats Get Coronavirus? No Need to Worry (Maybe Just a Little)

Dogs wearing masks are seen in a stroller in Shanghai on February 19, 2020. NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images

Two in three American households, or 85 million families, live with a pet. So it’s no surprise that, as the new coronavirus, Covid-19, spreads across the world and faces an imminent outbreak in the U.S., many dog and cat parents start to worry: can the highly infectious virus get to their furry children?

The short answer is, it’s unclear yet, but it might be worth taking precautionary measures to a reasonable extent.

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Coronaviruses are a large family of pathogens commonly found in birds and mammals. Scientists have found evidence suggesting that Covid-19 first originated from bats and migrated to humans through physical contact. But there is no evidence showing that the virus can transmit from humans to dogs and cats or vice versa, according to both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Last Friday, the dog of a coronavirus patient in Hong Kong tested “weak positive” for Covid-19. However, the city’s agricultural and fisheries department has yet to determine whether the dog has really got the disease or it was just “a result of environmental contamination of its mouth and nose.” The dog is currently quarantined at an animal facility in Hong Kong.

The U.S. CDC suggests pet owners restrict contact, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food,” with pets and other animals if the owner is infected with the coronavirus. And the WHO said ” it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets. This protects you against various common bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella that can pass between pets and humans.”

Can Dogs and Cats Get Coronavirus? No Need to Worry (Maybe Just a Little)