With over 70% of households in the US owning at least one pet, you may wonder if your companion animal can catch Covid-19. The answer is yes - your pet can become infected with the SARS-CoV-2 (Covid) virus.
The CDC tested 50 cats from people who had known infection and 12% (6) of the animals tested positive for the same genome, indicating human to animal transmission of the virus. There have been no cases of animal to human transmission. There have also been reports of dogs and zoo animals (tigers and lions) being infected. Except for a report of one dog and one tiger, there were no signs of illness in any of the animals and the cats mounted a rapid immune response to the virus. Experiments done by the CDC showed cats can transmit the virus to other cats but this has not been seen in dogs.
It seems minks are especially susceptible to Covid-19 and 7000-8000 minks from Utah mink fur farms died of the infection. The virus was brought in by infected workers who traveled from farm to farm. Minks have the ACE-2 protein receptor in the lungs which binds to the virus and predicts vulnerability.
We love our furry companions so it is important to treat them like members of the family and protect them from infection. If someone is sick in the household, the pets should be quarantined with the family members. Don't put masks on pets. It could harm their breathing. Also, there is no evidence that infection can spread from skin, fur or hair of pets so there is no need for disinfectants or special soaps.
One positive effect of this pandemic is that we are now home with our pets and they love it.