COVID vaccinations still not recommended for pets

Published 3:35 pm Thursday, November 11, 2021

As COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters reach a wider segment of the human population, experts at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine say they’re still not recommending vaccinations for pets.

“To date, I think we have only confirmed a single case of a pet infected with COVID-19 in this area, and that was from a household with an infected human, so it appears to be a fairly unlikely scenario,” said Mark Freeman, a clinical assistant professor in Community Practice at Virginia Tech.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a very small number of pets around the world have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after having contact with people with the virus. Based on the information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.

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“Most dogs and cats are exposed to other strains of coronavirus when they are puppies or kittens, so already have some natural immunity, although it may not always be cross-protective,” said Freeman. “We have tested several animals that had some clinical signs that would be expected with coronavirus, and also who came from households where there was a human infected, but to my knowledge all the tests in pets have been negative.”

Pets that do have symptoms usually have mild illness that can be taken care of at home. If you think your pet is sick with the virus or if you have concerns about your pet’s health, talk to your veterinarian.

“As this virus continues to mutate, we may find that it could be more likely to infect pets, at which point we would we may be more likely to consider vaccination to prevent further spread, especially between pets and humans,” Freeman said.