COVID vaccine unnecessary for animals, pets

·2 min read

Jun. 5—Animals don't play a significant role in transmitting COVID-19 to humans, according to veterinarians.

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation attending veterinarian Jennie Criley said it's unlikely that animals and pets would need vaccines for the virus.

"Although there are a few reports of dogs and cats testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, they typically show no or very mild symptoms," said Criley. "Currently, there is no evidence that dogs and cats play a significant role in transmitting the virus to humans or other animals."

The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests horses, pigs, and poultry aren't naturally susceptible to the virus.

"While results of studies of the virus in cattle are conflicting, the AVMA notes it doesn't appear they can be easily infected either," OMRF stated.

There may be an exception, and that is mink — "small, weasel-like" mammals that are bred on farms, which can be infected and could transmit the virus to humans.

"The concern is that the virus could thrive in animals, mutate, and then pass back to humans," said OMRF physician-scientist Hal Scofield, M.D. "Given that the probable origin of COVID-19 was an animal — likely a bat — it's important that this be monitored."

Numerous vaccines for those types of mammals are currently in development.

"If the U.S. Department of Agriculture and health experts determine a companion animal SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is necessary, a vaccine developed for mink could eventually be adapted and approved for household pets, OMRF stated.

Criley said if a vaccine is needing to be developed for pets and the virus, it wouldn't be the first time.

"Rabies is a classic example of a vaccination given to our pets that keeps them safe and that saves human lives," said Criley.

Criley encourages pet owners to keep their animals up to day with preventive health care that's recommended by veterinarians.

"And remember, pets have become used to people being home more while we have been working remotely. Be sure to give them some extra TLC if you are transitioning back to working outside of the home office," she said.