- Humans can spread monkeypox to pets, but health experts say it’s rare.
- Researchers have reported a human-to-dog case of monkeypox in Paris, but there are no other recorded incidents in the U.S. at this time.
- Symptoms of monkeypox in pets include lack of appetite, fever, fatigue, coughing, bloating, and/or skin rash.
A dog in Paris contracted monkeypox from its owners earlier this month, prompting pet owners to question whether their furry companions could be at risk too.
Since monkeypox is a zoonotic disease, it can spread between animals and people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while rare, it’s possible for monkeypox patients to spread the virus to their pets through close contact, including petting, cuddling, hugging, kissing, licking, sharing sleeping areas, and sharing food.
Other types of orthopoxviruses have infected a wide range of species, including hamsters, guinea pigs, dogs, and cats. Prior to this outbreak, monkeypox, specifically, was typically only identified in wild animals and rodents. But in 2003, 47 cases of monkeypox were reported in the United States and they all became ill after having contact with pet prairie dogs.
Researchers are still learning which animal species can get monkeypox, and how to tell. Not all animals have a rash when they have the virus.
“Given what we know about other orthopoxviruses, it would be wise to assume pets might catch monkeypox too, and accordingly, take appropriate measures to prevent infection or disease spread.” said Lori Teller, DVM, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
What Are the Symptoms of Monkeypox in Pets?
Researchers don’t know all the symptoms that infected animals may have, but you can watch out for signs such as:
- Lack of appetite
- Nasal or eye secretions or crust
- Skin rash
“As the disease progresses, some animals may develop a pimple or blister-like rash, while others may not,” Teller said.
What Should You Do if Your Pet Is Showing Symptoms?
Call your veterinarian if your pet appears sick within 21 days of having contact with a person who may have been infected with monkeypox.
If your pet had close contact with a symptomatic person, you should keep the pet at home and away from other people for 21 days after the most recent contact.
Don’t wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or other products, such as hand sanitizer, counter-cleaning wipes, or other industrial or surface cleaners.
Teller said minimizing contact between potentially infected pets and people is especially important for those who are “immunocompromised, pregnant, younger than 8 years old, and those who have a history of atopic dermatitis or eczema.”
How Can You Protect Your Pet If You’re Infected With Monkeypox?
If you’re infected with monkeypox, but had no close contact with your pet before symptom onset, try to ask a friend or family member to take care of your pet in a separate home until you’re fully recovered.
If that’s not an option and you have to care for your healthy pet at home, you should always wash your hands and use alcohol-based sanitizers before and after caring for them. You should also cover any skin rash with clothing and wear personal protective equipment, such as a well-fitting mask and gloves.
The CDC also recommends the following precautions:
- Do not put a mask on your pet.
- Avoid close contact with your pet.
- Ensure your pet cannot inadvertently come into contact with contaminated articles in the home such as clothing, sheets, and towels used by the person with monkeypox.
- Do not let animals come into contact with rashes, bandages, and body fluids.
- Ensure food, toys, bedding, or other items that you provide for your animal during its isolation do not come in direct contact with skin or uncovered rash.
What This Means For You
Humans can spread monkeypox to their pets, but it’s rare. If your pet is showing symptoms of monkeypox, you should contact your veterinarian immediately for the next steps, including testing for infection and isolation protocols.