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Veterinarian: No reason to think pets can catch, spread coronavirus

Veterinarians and the CDC say there is no reason to think pet dogs and cats can catch or spread coronavirus. (Nicole Jennings/KIRO Radio)

With medical experts saying coronavirus has likely been spreading around the Seattle area for several weeks, many are wondering: Could our pet dogs and cats be included?

Dr. Steve Weinrauch, the chief veterinary officer with Seattle-based pet insurance Trupanion, said animal lovers can rest assured — there is no reason to think Fluffy or Spot could catch coronavirus or spread the disease to you or other animals.

“There is no evidence to suggest that cats or other pets can contract or spread COVID-19 or the coronavirus,” Weinrauch said.

All of the confirmed coronavirus cases across Washington state

A dog in Hong Kong tested weak-positive for coronavirus after its owner came down with the illness.

“We don’t know what that means — this pet could be what we call a dead-end host, meaning that it can be an environmental contaminant or contagion that the pet carries in the mouth or nose that could never turn into an illness in the pet, nor could it be transmitted back to a human,” Weinrauch said.

The dog has been quarantined, and Weinrauch said it is very unlikely to spread.

There are no other pets worldwide known to have the disease.

Weinrauch suggested contacting your vet if you notice anything off with your pet’s behavior or health.

“If you have a family pet that shows any unusual signs for anything — it doesn’t matter if it’s an accident or an illness, if your pet coughs, sneezes, has diarrhea, or limps — any of those things, if you have a concern, you should reach out to your trusted family veterinarian and talk it through with them,” he said.

Trupanion is monitoring patterns of pets across the country that are being taken to animal hospitals and analyzing the data for any abnormal trends. So far, none have been noted.

In a press release, the Seattle Humane Society recommended having two weeks’ supply of each pet’s food, medication, and water on hand in the event that you are unable to leave the house.

The CDC’s website states there is no evidence that pets could spread the disease, though it does recommend avoiding close contact with pets if you become sick with the virus.

So, as long as you remain healthy, feel free to snuggle your four-legged companion to your heart’s content.

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