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Covid 19 and Animals

COVID-19 and Animals

Page last reviewed: April 22, 2020

Content source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases


Covid 19 and Animals, At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.  A small number of pets have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after contact with people with COVID-19.

Pets have other types of coronaviruses that can make them sick, like canine and feline coronaviruses. These other coronaviruses cannot infect people and are not related to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals, such as washing your hands and maintaining good hygiene. For more information on the many benefits of pet ownership, as well as staying safe and healthy around animals including pets, livestock, and wildlife, visit CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website.

No. At this time, routine testing of animals for COVID-19 is not recommended.

Although we know certain bacteria and fungi can be carried on fur and hair, there is no evidence that viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread to people from the skin, fur, or hair of pets.

However, because animals can sometimes carry other germs that can make people sick, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals, including washing hands before and after interacting with them.

We are still learning about this virus, but it appears that it can spread from people to animals in some situations. Until we learn more about this new coronavirus, you should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would with people. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including

  • Petting
  • Snuggling
  • Being kissed or licked
  • Sharing food or bedding

If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a cloth face covering.

We don’t know for sure which animals can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. CDC is aware of a small number of pets, including dogs and cats, reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19. A tiger at a zoo in New York has also tested positive for the virus.

Recent research shows that ferrets, cats, and golden Syrian hamsters can be experimentally infected with the virus and can spread the infection to other animals of the same species in laboratory settings. Pigs, chickens, and ducks did not become infected or spread the infection based on results from these studies. Data from one study suggested dogs are not as likely to become infected with the virus as cats and ferrets. These findings were based on a small number of animals, and do not show whether animals can spread infection to people.

At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by the virus that causes COVID-19 and the role animals may play in the spread of COVID-19.

We are still learning about this virus and how it spreads, but it appears it can spread from humans to animals in some situations. CDC is aware of a small number of pets, including cats, reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19. Most of these animals had contact with a person with COVID-19. A tiger at a New York zoo has also tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.

At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Based on the limited data available, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person, typically through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, or talking.

People sick with COVID-19 should isolate themselves from other people and animals, including pets, during their illness until we know more about how this virus affects animals. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with pets.

Walking a dog is important for both animal and human health and well-being. Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people and animals, do not gather in groups, and stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings. Do not go to dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather. To help maintain social distancing, do not let other people pet your dog when you are out for a walk.

There is a small number of animals around the world reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after having contact with a person with COVID-19. Talk to your veterinarian about any health concerns you have about your pets.

If your pet gets sick after contact with a person with COVID-19, do not take your pet to the veterinary clinic yourself. Call your veterinarian and let them know the pet was around a person with COVID-19. Some veterinarians may offer telemedicine consultations or other plans for seeing sick pets. Your veterinarian can evaluate your pet and determine the next steps for your pet’s treatment and care.

Covid 19 and Animals are only being tested in very rare circumstances. Routine testing of animals is not recommended at this time, and any tests done on animals are done on a case by case basis. For example, if the pet of a COVID-19 patient has a new, concerning illness with symptoms similar to those of COVID-19, the animal’s veterinarian might consult with public health and animal health officials to determine if testing is needed.

Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. There is no reason to think that any animals, including shelter pets, play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

Imported animals will need to meet CDC and USDAexternal iconexternal icon requirements for entering the United States. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets and service animals, can spread the virus that causes COVID-19. As with any animal introduced to a new environment, animals recently imported should be observed daily for signs of illness. If an animal becomes ill, the animal should be examined by a veterinarian. Call your local veterinary clinic before bringing the animal into the clinic and let them know that the animal was recently imported from another country.

This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.

Other coronaviruses have been found in North American bats in the past, but there is currently no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 is present in any free-living wildlife in the United States, including bats. In general, coronaviruses do not cause illness or death in bats, but we don’t yet know if this new coronavirus would make North American species of bats sick. Bats are an important part of natural ecosystems, and their populations are already declining in the United States. Bat populations could be further threatened by the disease itself or by harm inflicted on bats resulting from a misconception that bats are spreading COVID-19. However, there is no evidence that bats in the United States are a source of the virus that causes COVID-19 for people. Further studies are needed to understand if and how bats could be affected by COVID-19.