Yes, it is possible for pets to become infected with monkeypox.
The virus itself can be traced back to animals, as it is a zoonotic disease after all. This means monkeypox was spread from animals to people, and infected people can also spread it to animals, including pets, during close contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Scientists have shared the first potential case of “human-to-dog transmission” of monkeypox involving two men in France who tested positive for the virus and their pet dog that got infected days later in a report published Aug. 10 in The Lancet.
The report comes as 11,890 cases of monkeypox in people have been recorded in the U.S. as of Aug. 15, according to the CDC. Meanwhile, 36,589 cases have been recorded globally.
While the agency says there is still more to learn about which animals can test positive for monkeypox, here is everything we know so far about the virus and pets.
Greyhound gets monkeypox
Two men, ages 27 and 34, who live in the same home — described as non-exclusive partners who have sex with other men — tested positive for monkeypox in France, according to the report in the Lancet. At the home, they would both sleep next to their Italian greyhound.
Twelve days after the men’s symptoms began, including bodily rashes and lesions, the pair’s 4-year-old dog started showing its own monkeypox symptoms, the French scientists report.
The dog had no prior known medical issues and began developing bodily lesions, the report says. Afterward, it tested positive for monkeypox on a PCR test.
Scientists say the monkeypox strain the greyhound had was the same as the strain its owners had.
“Our findings should prompt debate on the need to isolate pets from monkeypox virus-positive individuals,” the French scientists wrote.
Since the CDC says people can spread monkeypox to animals through close contact, “petting, cuddling, hugging, kissing, licking, sharing sleeping areas, and sharing food” should be avoided, according to the agency.
Monkeypox infections in pets and animals
There are a number of animal species, including animals that are considered pets, that can test positive for monkeypox, according to the CDC.
After the report in the Lancet about the greyhound’s infection, the CDC updated its online page about monkeypox in animals and named dogs as a species that can become infected, CBS reported.
Other animals that could be considered pets and can get monkeypox, according to the agency, include:
As of Aug. 12, it is unknown whether cats, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters and domestic farm animals including cows, goats, sheep, pigs, and camels can get monkeypox, the CDC says.
“Do not surrender, euthanize, or abandon pets just because of a potential exposure or Monkeypox virus,” according to the CDC’s online page about pets in the home.
Pets potentially exposed to monkeypox should stay in the home and be isolated from other animals for 21 days, the agency says. If you are infected with monkeypox and have a pet, keep your hands clean, wear a mask, gloves and cover rashes with clothing when caring for the animal.
“Do not 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.”
Ultimately, if you are concerned about your pet having monkeypox, call a veterinarian and get it tested, the CDC advises.