COVID-19 Testing for Pets

COVID-19 Testing for Pets

April 23, 2020 - Information regarding COVID-19 and animals is evolving. Routine testing of domestic animals for COVID-19 is not currently being recommended by the AVMA, CDC, USDA, AAVLD or NASPHV. Public health and animal health officials may decide to test certain animals following specific criteria. The decision to test should be made collaboratively between the attending veterinarian and local, state, and/or federal public health and animal health officials. We have compiled information to assist NJ veterinarians in the rare cases where testing an animal is being considered and communicating with clients about COVID-19 and pets:

  • At this time, there is no evidence that domestic animals, including pets and livestock, can spread COVID-19 to people.

  • Approval from state officials will be required before obtaining and submitting samples for COVID-19 testing. NJ veterinarians can send questions about testing NJ suspect livestock or pets for SARS-CoV2 virus to NJanimalCOVID19@AG.NJ.GOV. It is important to note that if the decision is made to test, only a state-appointed veterinarian or USDA accredited veterinarian will be authorized to collect samples.

  • Please refer to USDA's frequently asked questions for sample collection, transport, storage, and reporting of results. If samples are sent to state animal health, university, or private laboratories for initial testing, all samples should be collected by a licensed and, preferably, USDA-accredited veterinarian and in duplicate because positive samples must be confirmed through additional testing by the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL). The USDA is responsible for reporting any animal that tests positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the United States to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

  • Should other animals be confirmed positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the United States, USDA will post these findings here.

  • Additional information is available from:
  • Comprehensive information on reports of COVID-19 in animals can be found here.

  • If pets present respiratory or gastrointestinal signs, veterinarians should test for more common pathogens and conditions. With “Stay at Home” orders in place there is a possibility pets may be exposed to increased respiratory irritants (e.g. aromatherapy products, household cleaners and disinfectants) or have greater opportunities for dietary indiscretion.

  • Guidance on managing pets in homes where people are sick with COVID-19 is available from the CDC.

  • Recognize that physical distancing from pets at a time when they are most in need of companionship and comfort will be upsetting for many pet owners.

  • It is advisable for pet owners to have an emergency plan in place in the event they are hospitalized including:
    • Identify a trusted pet caregiver, or contact your local veterinarian or potential boarding facilities to see if they can offer safe shelter for your pet during a health emergency.
    • Make sure pet identification and microchip registration is up to date.
    • Record important information about your pet so that you can easily access it during an emergency.
    • Put together a Go Bag for each pet with basic food, supplies, medicine, identification, a list of emergency contacts, your veterinarian’s contact information, and vaccination proof.
    • Ensure all medications are documented with dosages and administering instructions.