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Monkeypox in Dogs | BetterVet

Monkeypox is a viral infection that’s been making headlines in 2022 due to a wave of cases in people in the United States and the United Kingdom. The virus is known to affect humans, primates, and small mammals. Many dog owners are now understandably concerned for their pets. So, let’s have a look at the facts. Can dogs get monkeypox, and, as pet owners, should we be concerned? 



All about monkeypox

 

Monkeypox is a poxvirus, coming from the same Orthopoxvius family that also contains smallpox and cowpox. It is endemic in parts of West and Central Africa. In July 2022, monkeypox was declared a Public Health Emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) due to its spread outside of endemic areas of Africa and rapidly multiplying cases across Europe and the United States. 

Monkeypox is zoonotic, meaning it can spread between animals and humans. In people, it causes a skin rash with multiple small pustular spots, occurring mostly on the face, hands, and genitals. It can also cause enlarged lymph nodes (appearing as lumps under the skin), tiredness, a fever, headaches, and muscle aches. Symptoms are usually mild, but more severe disease is possible. 



Can dogs get monkeypox?

 

Monkeypox in dogs appears uncommon, but there has been one recorded case of the virus in a pet dog in France in June 2022. The dog was owned by two people, both of whom tested positive for monkeypox after developing symptoms including a rash, fever, and headaches. 12 days after the owners developed symptoms, their pet dog developed a rash on its belly and around its bottom and on investigation tested positive for this poxvirus. 

 

This is so far the only confirmed case of monkeypox in dogs, despite thousands of cases in humans globally. 



How do dogs catch monkeypox?

 

The sole case of monkeypox in dogs was in a pet dog who was reported to have been in close contact with the infected owners, including sharing a bed. Human-to-human virus spread is thought to occur through direct contact with the rash lesions, shared bodily fluids or respiratory droplets. In endemic areas, people can become infected from animals via direct contact, usually when hunting or trapping. 

 

Given the zoonotic nature of monkeypox, and the reported case in a pet dog, it seems possible that dogs can get monkeypox through close contact with an infected person or animal. This may include petting, cuddling, kissing, licking, and by sharing sleeping spaces or food. Monkeypox can survive in the environment, on surfaces or materials contaminated by bodily fluids, or pustular lesions. 



Monkeypox symptoms in dogs

 

Due to the low number of cases, it isn’t yet possible to say exactly what monkeypox symptoms in dogs may be. However, based on confirmed symptoms in other species, these are the top signs to watch out for.

 

  • Skin rash, especially with small blisters or pimples

  • Lethargy

  • Fever

  • Crusty, weepy eyes or nose

  • Lack of appetite

 

It is important to note that all these symptoms can be caused by other illnesses, so don’t panic! Problems such as seasonal allergies, for example, can cause weepy eyes, lethargy, and a rash. 



What should I do with my dog if I have monkeypox?

 

If you have symptoms of monkeypox yourself or have tested positive for the disease, then it is recommended by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) that you avoid contact with animals, including pets and wildlife. 

If the infected person has not had contact with the pet since developing monkeypox symptoms, the dog should be removed from the home and cared for by a friend or family member, if possible. This is just until the infected person has recovered, to prevent the dog from being exposed to the virus.

If an infected person has had close contact with the dog since developing symptoms, then keep the dog at home away from other people or animals for 21 days. Ideally, another person in the household should care for the pet to reduce their exposure to infection. If this isn’t possible, then avoid close contact with the dog, and observe optimal hygiene precautions such as wearing gloves when preparing their food, and washing bedding regularly. 

If you require veterinary advice while isolating with monkeypox, consider using a virtual vet service to get expert, professional advice without risking the spread of the disease. 

 

What should I do if I think my dog has monkeypox?

 

Firstly, don’t panic. The symptoms of monkeypox are not specific, and there are varying other causes of the most common signs. 

If you’re concerned about your dog, contact a veterinarian today. They will be able to perform a test, confirm a diagnosis, and provide veterinary care for your pup. 

 

How is monkeypox in dogs treated? 

 

There is no specific treatment for monkeypox. Supportive care may be provided, such as medications to alleviate any fever and soothe the skin rash. Severe disease is uncommon in humans. 

 

Can cats get monkeypox?

 

There have been no reported cases of monkeypox in cats, and it is currently unknown whether transmission is possible. However, they are susceptible to other orthopoxviruses, so infection with monkeypox is technically possible. 



Summing it up

 

  • Monkeypox is a viral disease, endemic in Africa but with growing numbers of cases in Europe and the United States.

  • Symptoms in humans include a skin rash, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, lethargy, and headaches.

  • In humans, monkeypox is spread by direct contact with skin lesions or bodily fluids such as saliva or respiratory droplets.

  • The virus is zoonotic, meaning it can pass between animals and humans, and there has been one reported case of monkeypox in a pet dog.

  • If you have monkeypox, isolate yourself from pets and other people as much as possible, and be stringent with your hygiene measures.

If you’re concerned about your pet, contact a vet for advice.