Can Dogs Get COVID? What About Cats?

Four minutes
Oct 26, 2023

COVID-19 is an infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. While many humans have fallen ill due to this virus over the last few years, you may be surprised to learn that pets can get COVID, too. Read on to learn more about COVID in dogs and cats, how transmission works, and how to care for animals if you or they have COVID.

Can Dogs Get COVID-19?

Yes, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), dogs can be infected with COVID-19.1 Fortunately, it’s not often that pets get infected, and if they do, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that most cases are mild with a full recovery after the right treatment.2

Dog COVID symptoms

Dogs infected with COVID-19 may or may not display symptoms. Some of these symptoms are similar to those humans may experience and can include:2

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Fever
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Eye and nasal discharge
  • Diarrhea and vomiting

Can Cats Get COVID-19?

Yes, just like dogs, cats can get COVID-19.1 And of the small number of confirmed cases over the years, pets may not show clinical signs of being infected and typically make a full recovery with proper care.2

Cat COVID symptoms

If your cat has COVID, they may or may not display symptoms. COVID symptoms in cats can show up as the same symptoms dogs can experience — such as fever, lethargy, breathing problems, and coughing.2

When in Doubt, Get Your Pet Checked Out       

Pet Insurance Can Help

Can Dogs or Cats Get COVID From Humans?

Evidence shows that dogs and cats with COVID-19 typically became infected after being in close contact with an infected human for a long time.1 This unfortunately means that, if you have COVID, you may spread the virus to your pet. However, transmission of the virus from humans to pets doesn’t happen easily — and very few cases have been confirmed.1

Can pets spread COVID-19?

While dogs and cats may become infected by humans spreading the virus, there’s a much lower chance that pets can spread the virus to humans and other animals.1 So if your pet has COVID, you likely don’t need to worry about them spreading it to other pets or people.

Should Pets Be Tested for COVID-19?

Vets are recommended to test pets for other illnesses before testing for COVID-19, and generally are advised against routine testing.1 If all other illnesses are ruled out, a COVID test can be performed and sent to a lab for confirmation.

A pet is only considered to be infected with COVID-19 if a positive test from a veterinarian is then confirmed by a USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory.3

Treating Your Pet Who Has COVID-19

If a test comes back positive for the COVID-19 infection, you and your vet can work together on a treatment plan based on your pet’s condition. Most pets who aren’t seriously ill recover with at-home care consisting of:3

  • Limited contact with other pets and humans — though you should still provide the care they need
  • Regularly cleaned bowls, bedding, litter boxes, or anything they use to reduce exposure to germs
  • Rest with adequate food and water, according to your vet’s instructions
  • Medications to help relieve symptoms, as prescribed by your vet

Your vet can clear your pet to return to normal activities when they meet one of two criteria: Either your pet hasn’t shown symptoms in at least 72 hours without medical care AND 14 days have passed since their last positive test, OR all re-tests have come back negative.2

Caring for Your Pet if You Have COVID-19

Due to the low risk of pets getting COVID-19 from humans, if you or someone else in your home is infected with COVID, you likely don’t need to remove your pet from your home.1 You may, however, want to limit contact or have an uninfected household member take care of them as a precaution. If no one in your home is able to care for your pet while you’re sick, you may want to make a plan for someone else to safely help out while you recover.

If you’re sick, it’s a good idea to follow AVMA and CDC guidelines to help protect your pet:1,2

  • Keep pets indoors as best you can to limit contact with other pets and humans.
  • Walk pets on a leash if you’re going outdoors, and avoid public gathering places.
  • Keep good hygiene habits if you must interact with pets — such as washing hands, wearing a mask, and limiting contact.

According to the CDC, you shouldn’t use chemical cleaning products on your pet (like sanitizer, disinfectants, or surface cleaners) as it’s unsafe for them, and there’s no evidence of the virus spreading from contact with their fur, skin, or hair.2

Help Keep Your Pet Healthy With Pet Insurance

As pet parents, we never want to see our dog or cat sick. Fortunately, with COVID, it’s unlikely that they’ll be infected or experience symptoms. But what happens if your pup catches kennel cough or your kitty gets calicivirus, both of which have symptoms that can mirror COVID? Getting them the care they need when they fall ill is important — but it can come with unexpected costs.

With a MetLife Pet Insurance policy on your side, you can get reimbursed for covered illness and accident expenses, helping you get the best care for your furry family member without worrying about breaking your budget. And if you have multiple pets in your home, take advantage of our family plan — the only one on the market — that allows you to cover up to three pets on one policy with a shared deductible.4 Plus, our pet insurance policies can come with access to a 24/7 vet chat. So if you’re sick, you can talk with a vet without having to leave your home.

Put choosing between your finances and your pet’s care in the past. Get a free quote today, and see how MetLife Pet can help you keep your beloved pets happy and healthy.

Pet Insurance Can Help Cover Pet Injury & Illness Costs

**As with any insurance policy, coverage may vary. Review our coverage and exclusions.

1 “SARS-CoV-2 in animals,” American Veterinary Medical Association

2 “What You Should Know about COVID-19 and Pets,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

3 “Caring for your pet with SARS-CoV-2,” American Veterinary Medical Association

4 Based on a March 2023 review of publicly available summary information about competitors’ offerings. Competitors did not furnish copies of their policies for review. If you have questions about a particular competitor's policy or coverage, please contact them or their representative directly.

Coverage issued by Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, and Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85454. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations and application is subject to underwriting. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC (“MetLife Pet”) for details. MetLife Pet is the policy administrator. It may operate under an alternate or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota) and MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

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