Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Army veterinarians post FAQ for pet owners to Army Public Health Center COVID-19 website

Woman laying on couch with her dog The Army Public Health Center has updated its COVID-19 website with a number of pet-related COVID-19 frequently asked questions. Army veterinarians say it is important to stay tuned to reputable sources when navigating topics related to animals and pets. (U.S. Army Public Health Center Photo Illustration by Graham Snodgrass)

Recommended Content:


ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – There have been a few stories recently reported in the news about human to animal transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This has raised concerns with some pet owners about how to properly care for and safely interact with their pets during this time of social distancing and stay-at-home quarantines. The Army Public Health Center has updated its COVID-19 website with a number of pet-related COVID-19 frequently asked questions.

In early April, a Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. This was the first case of an animal testing positive for COVID-19 in the U.S. and public health officials presume this large cat became mildly sick after being exposed to a zoo employee who was actively shedding virus. Two dogs and one cat in Hong Kong, one cat in Belgium, and more recently, two cats in New York were reported to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) after testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.

“In all cases, it is believed that the virus was transmitted to the animals after close contact with a COVID-19 positive human and animals showed very mild signs of disease,” said Lt. Col. Sara Mullaney, an APHC veterinarian and division chief for Veterinary One Health, which works with other health professionals on health education, and the prevention and surveillance of animal, zoonotic, and foodborne diseases. “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 to people or that they might be a source of infection in the U.S.”

Studies are underway to investigate human to animal transmission in multiple animal species, said Col. Derron A. Alves, deputy director of APHC’s Veterinary Services and Public Health Sanitation Directorate. However, most of the studies so far have involved experimental infection of animals with SARS-CoV-2 that don’t always reflect natural conditions, so more studies are needed to better understand the infectious behavior of the virus between species under normal settings.

“There are other types of coronaviruses that can make pets sick, like canine and feline coronaviruses,” said Alves. “These relatively older viruses have been researched extensively, and we know they cannot infect people and are not related to the coronavirus responsible for the current COVID-19 outbreak. Army Veterinary Services is staying up to date to ensure personnel are fully informed on the latest data.”

These recent cases of cats likely contracting the virus from an infected human, though rare, have reinforced the importance of following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations that people who are sick with COVID-19 restrict animal contact, said Mullaney.

“Yes, the bond between people and their pets, particularly in lowering stress, increasing fitness, and bringing happiness is well documented and undeniable,” said Mullaney. “We also recognize that for many, the human-pet relationship may be more comforting now especially during the COVID-19 pandemic in which physical distancing has proven helpful in the overall public health disease transmission mitigation strategy. However, in an abundance of precaution, people who are sick with COVID-19 should practice physical distancing of six feet from other people and pets."

In addition, because animals can spread other diseases to humans, it is ALWAYS a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals, such as washing one’s hands before and after feeding or petting and maintaining good hygiene, said Mullaney. These healthy habits are especially important in immunocompromised or ill individuals most susceptible to contracting other diseases.

Mullaney said continuing veterinary medical care for pets, even during this pandemic, is especially important.

“Most states have deemed veterinary practices ‘essential business’, so limited veterinary services should still be available for your pet,” said Mullaney. “Many veterinary practices are implementing social distancing and curbside procedures during this time. It’s best to call ahead to see what procedures your veterinary clinic is following to minimize human-to-human transmission, and what veterinary services are being offered.”

Owners who are sick with COVID-19 should not take their pet to the veterinary clinic themselves. They should find an alternate caregiver to take the pet in or contact their veterinarian to see what telemedicine options or alternate plans might be available, said Mullaney.

“It’s important to try to identify an individual who is willing and able to care for your animals if you contract COVID-19 or have any other health emergency,” said Mullaney.

Animal owners should have an emergency kit prepared, with at least two weeks’ supply of food and medications, as well as copies of all animals’ medical records. Animals should be properly identified with ID tags, microchips, brands, and rabies/license tags as applicable. In the event your animal needs to be transported, the appropriate crates/carriers and/or trailers should be identified and available.

“You should also have a list of people authorized to make medical decisions about your animals, if different from the caregiver,” said Mullaney. “Be sure to communicate your instructions for different levels of emergency medical care your animals may need in your absence. If you cannot identify an individual to care for your animals, there may be boarding facilities, local animal shelters or animal control facilities that can provide temporary emergency sheltering. There is no reason at this time to permanently surrender pets to animal shelters out of concern for COVID-19.”

Mullaney says social distancing and stay-at-home orders doesn’t mean leave out exercise, which is good for human and pet health.

“Keep up your walking routine, but ensure you following physical distancing for your dog, just as you would for yourself,” said Mullaney. “It’s also best to avoid dog parks and other public places where a large number of dogs and people gather.”

For cat owners, the CDC recommends that cats be kept indoors when possible to prevent their interaction with other animals or people. Keeping cats indoors is also good practice regardless of COVID-19 to minimize their risk of injury or exposure to standard feline diseases.

Information regarding COVID-19 is being rapidly produced and disseminated as efforts continue around the world to understand all aspects of this virus and the disease it causes, said Mullaney. All that information can become overwhelming and even misleading at times so it’s important to stay tuned to reputable sources such as the CDC, U.S. Department of Agriculture and American Veterinary Medical Association to help navigate topics related to animals and pets. Those organizations bring together experts from across the spectrum to carefully weigh the scientific evidence and how to apply it practically for the continued safety and welfare of animals and people. Installation veterinarians can also be a source of information for pet owners.

Answers to many pet owners COVID-19 frequently asked questions can be found under the heading “pets” at

The Army Public Health Center focuses on promoting healthy people, communities, animals and workplaces through the prevention of disease, injury and disability of Soldiers, military retirees, their families, veterans, Army civilian employees, and animals through population-based monitoring, investigations, and technical consultations.

Disclaimer: Re-published content may be edited for length and clarity.  Read original post.

You also may be interested in...

Do You Have COVID-19? Influenza? Or is it RSV? Here’s What to Look For

Military personnel preparing a COVID-19 test sample for processing

Knowing the symptoms of COVID-19/RSV/Flu will help your medical treatment

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

Medical Leaders Address COVID-19 Concerns During Family Forum

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jemuel Macabali, from San Diego, Calif., gives the COVID-19 vaccine to staff at Camp Lemonnier, in Djibouti, Aug. 13, 2021.

Top health leaders talk about the recent spike in COVID-19 infections and the impact on the military community.

Recommended Content:


Critically ill COVID Patient Delivers Baby While on Heart-Lung Bypass

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hernandez and his wife, Ashley, take a family portrait with their six children. Ashley is BAMC’s first patient to give birth while on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation.

Hernandez, a Marine Corps spouse and mother of five, is BAMC’s first patient to give birth while on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Coronavirus

Development of WRAIR’s Pan-Coronavirus Vaccine Shows Promise

A vial of spike ferritin nanoparticle WRAIR's COVID-19 vaccine

Series of preclinical studies supports the Army’s pan-coronavirus vaccine development strategy

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Immunization Experts are Central to COVID-19 Vaccine Program

Medical director at Fort Riley, Kansas receives a COVID-19 vaccination In his left arm from a tech in personal protective equipment.

Immunization Health Division at forefront of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Military Health System Marks 1-Year Anniversary for COVID Vaccinations

FEmale Marine gets COVID 19 vaccination in left  arm at Camp LeJeune in December 2020

More than 6.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered a year after first shots within MHS.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

MHS Reaches 6 Million Doses of Vaccine Against COVID

Airmen of the 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, receive COVID-19 immunizations as a part of the federal mandate at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Missouri, Oct. 2, 2021. The 139th Medical Group oversees the operation. .

Military passes 6 million mark for COVID-19 shots administered across the Military Health System.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors

COVID 19 Vaccine Is Now Available for Children 5 to 11

5-year-old girl in mask reads a book by herself

COVID-19 vaccines for 5-11 year olds are ready now through MHS

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

More Than 95% of Active Duty Have Received COVID-19 Vaccine

Female hospital corpsman gives a COVID-19 vaccine injection to a sailor in her left arm

Service members continue to line up for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors

Mask Mouth Does Not Exist, Dentists Say

A bunch of children wearing face masks walk on a city street.

Mask mouth doesn’t exist, Internet chatter to the contrary, dentists say.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Booster Shots are Now Available – What You Need to Know

Containers of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Each vial contains six doses for vaccination against the COVID-19 virus.

Booster shots are now recommended for millions of people – but many others will have to wait for additional approvals.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Myths & facts about the vax - debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths

Myths and facts about the vax

The COVID-19 vaccine has been mandated across the Department of Defense and despite its demonstrated effectiveness and safety, a host of myths have left some Airmen and Guardians hesitant to receive it. While social media posts and some news outlets may make it harder to keep up with what is fact or fiction, the science is clear … approved COVID-19 vaccines work.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

DODEA Schools Keeps On With In-Person Classes, and Fall Sports, Too

Kids playing football

DODEA schools are striving to continue in-person learning in the 2021-22 school year.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Coronavirus

Navy Spouse Seeks Mental Health Care through the MHS

Military personnel in front of a helicopter

Army public affairs officer deals with mental health crisis.

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Toolkit

The COVID-19 Pandemic: How Health Care Workers are Coping

a nurse helping a COVID-19 patient

For health care providers, experiencing the pandemic inside a hospital has brought

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Military Health Podcasts
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 27

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.