Scientists believe that dogs and cats don’t need to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as they don’t play a big role in transmitting the disease to humans.
However, current evidence shows certain species of animals—such as dogs, cats, gorillas, tigers and mink—can be infected with the coronavirus, according to the BBC. It’s also possible for animals to contract COVID-19 from exposure to infected humans.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s unlikely for humans to contract COVID-19 from animals infected with the virus. “There's no need for a vaccine [for cats and dogs] from a public health standpoint,” said health expert William Karesh of EcoHealth Alliance in a report by Science Magazine last year.
Kevin Tyler, editor-in-chief of Virulence, said it’s “quite unlikely” pets will be vaccinated in large numbers.
Protecting Pets from COVID-19
Should pet owners become sick with COVID-19, Melissa Justice of the Indiana State Board of Animal Health advises them to socially distance from their pets. This will help prevent said pets from becoming infected with the coronavirus.
If possible, Justice recommends that the pets be looked after by someone else in the household who is confirmed to not have COVID-19 until the affected pet owner’s quarantine period is over.
The CDC also advises pet owners not to put masks on their pets, as masks could end up harming them instead.
Caring for Pets Sick with COVID-19
For pet owners that suspect that their fur babies may be sick with COVID-19, the CDC recommends that they talk to their veterinarian via telemedicine consultations. Pet owners with COVID-19 are discouraged from bringing their sick pets to veterinary clinics in person to prevent the spread of the virus.
Pet owners are also discouraged from bringing their sick pets outside to any public or private venues, and from hiring the services of a pet walker or sitter that lives outside of their homes.
Depending on the pet’s symptoms, they can be cared for at home rather than taken to a hospital.
“The good news with our dogs and cats and species like what we have in our homes is typically their clinical symptoms tend to be mild in most cases,” said Justice in a report by WFYI.
Should a veterinarian recommend that a pet be isolated at home, the animal must be kept away from other people and pets in a designated “sick room.” Pet owners and other residents in the household must avoid contact with the infected pet as much as possible.
To keep sick pets comfortable, pet owners should provide them with their own custom dog beds, blankets, stainless steel bowls, toys, and other accessories. These items should be kept separate from those used by other pets in the home and should be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
When cleaning up after their pets, pet owners must wear gloves to keep their hands from coming in contact with infected surfaces and immediately wash their hands with soap and water after they’re done.
The CDC also advises pet owners against wiping or bathing their pets with alcohol, hand sanitizer, counter-cleaning wipes, hydrogen peroxide or other potentially harmful cleaning products, as there is no evidence that humans can contract the virus from contact with a pet’s hair, fur or skin.
Development of Vaccines for Other Animals
Though there is currently no COVID-19 vaccine for dogs and cats available to the public, some zoos across the country are planning to vaccinate their animals, particularly species that are susceptible or potentially susceptible to the coronavirus. This includes the Indianapolis Zoo, which will be using a vaccine developed by U.S. veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis. The zoo expects to receive the vaccines by early fall at the latest.
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