Is it true that animals, like dogs, cats, and cattle, get their own types of coronavirus?
Yes. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause cold-like illnesses in people, while others cause illness in certain types of animals, such as cattle, camels, and bats. Some coronaviruses, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals and do not infect humans. For example, bovine coronavirus causes diarrhea in young calves, and pregnant cows are routinely vaccinated to help prevent infection in calves. This vaccine is only licensed for use in cattle for bovine coronavirus and is not licensed to prevent COVID-19 in cattle or other species, including humans.
Dogs can get a respiratory coronavirus, which is part of the complex of viruses and bacteria associated with canine infectious respiratory disease, commonly known as “kennel cough.” While this virus is highly contagious among both domestic and wild dogs, it is not transmitted to other animal species or humans.
Most strains of feline enteric coronavirus, a gastrointestinal form, are fought off by a cat’s immune system without causing disease. However, in a small proportion of these cats, the virus can cause feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), a disease that is almost always fatal.
Other species, like horses, turkeys, chickens, and swine, can contract their own species-specific strains of coronavirus but, like the other strains mentioned above, they are not known to be transmissible to humans. More information is available in AVMA’s fact sheet about coronaviruses in domestic species (PDF).
See also: Pets and other animals