Can Pets Get Monkeypox? 


Recent Blog:

What is Monkeypox? As of late September 2022, nine cases of this viral disease had been diagnosed in New Zealand, and you may be worried about yourself and your pets. In terms of monkeypox in animals – it’s been confirmed that dogs and some other pets CAN be infected.

The disease has been declared a Communicable Disease Incident of National Significance across the ditch in Australia and a global emergency by the World Health Organisation. With more than 60,000 cases confirmed in humans worldwide, let’s go over what it is, how it can affect our pets, and what the symptoms and treatment are.

A fluffy dog looking at the camera. What is monkeypox and can your pets get it? Read here about monkeypox in animals.

What is monkeypox?

Contrary to what you may think, monkeypox isn’t a new disease. It’s endemic to many central African countries and typically exists in asymptomatic form in rodents and monkeys. It was first diagnosed in animals in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research in Denmark.

The first case of monkeypox in humans was diagnosed in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in a 9-month-old boy. Monkeypox is a zoonotic viral disease, meaning it can be passed from animals to humans. It causes symptoms that are similar to, but less severe than, smallpox.

Monkeypox is spread through “close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact”, according to the Centre for Disease Control. This would include direct contact with bodily fluids, skin lesions, rashes or scabs from an infected person or animal. It can also spread by touching objects, fabrics or surfaces that have been exposed to monkeypox.

this collection of orange cells demonstrates what is monkeypox in animals

What is monkeypox in animals?

There hasn’t been enough research on all the animals that can contract monkeypox, but what science does know is that animals susceptible to other orthopoxviruses are vulnerable. Orthopoxviruses are viruses that use mammals and arthropods as natural hosts, and includes smallpox, cowpox, horsepox, camelpox, and monkeypox.

There hasn’t been a confirmed case of monkeypox in cats, but we know dogs can contract the virus. According to a scientific paper published in August 2022, a dog in Paris was infected with monkeypox through its owners. These are the animals (many that people keep as pets) that can get monkeypox – that we know of, anyway:

  • Dogs
  • Prairie dogs
  • Squirrels
  • Marmots and groundhogs
  • Hedgehogs
  • Monkeys
  • Apes
  • Chinchillas
  • Shrews
  • Giant-pouched rats
  • Ant eaters

This is not to say these are the only animals that can get this disease, but that they’re those studied that have tested positive. It’s unclear whether reptiles, amphibians, or birds can get monkeypox, though it’s unlikely.

dark tan dog lying on bed suffers from dog vomiting after contracting monkeypox in animals

Symptoms of monkeypox in animals

When exploring what is monkeypox you’ll discover the most obvious symptom is ‘pox-like lesions’ that appear on the skin. They may initially look like a pimple or blister before developing into the characteristic monkeypox lesion. Please see here for examples of lesions (TW: Graphic content).

Other symptoms of monkeypox in animals include:

  • Rash
  • Red or crusty eyes
  • A runny or crusty nose
  • Reduced appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Coughing
  • Bloating
  • Nasal secretions or crust
  • Fever

What to do if your pet is showing symptoms

If you think your pet has monkeypox, you may have it too. There is no cure for monkeypox. So, if it’s a mild infection, the course of action is for both of you to self-isolate for at least 21 days until the infection passes. As with preventing coronavirus in dogs and cats, the less direct contact the better. You can take paracetamol for any pain, and be sure to stay hydrated. 

Nevertheless, it’s important that you report your symptoms to a medical professional. If your symptoms are more severe, you may need to go to a medical establishment for treatment or a vaccine. Health New Zealand recently secured a supply of the tecovirimat vaccine, which is expected to be available very soon. Smallpox vaccines Imvanex or Jynneos are also effective.

Here are action guides for you and your pet:

  1. Suspected monkeypox in animals: Next steps
  2. Suspected monkeypox in humans: Next steps
When exploring what is monkeypox laboratories need to do blood tests, as show in this collection of vials

A soft landing with award winning dog insurance

Monkeypox in animals is another reminder that our beloved pets are vulnerable to accidents and illnesses. Make sure you safeguard them with pet insurance. With PD Insurance, your first month of our dog insurance plans is completely free (or even more, depending on your pet’s age).

Why not get peace of mind with a quote from an award-winning insurer?

Share on :