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Home > Dogs > Can Dogs Get Monkeypox? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Can Dogs Get Monkeypox? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

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Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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While many human and dog diseases are species-specific, others threaten both species. Monkeypox is a virus believed to originate from small mammal populations in Central Africa. While we are still identifying all the species that can catch the virus, scientists assume that any mammal is vulnerable, which means dogs are considered to be susceptible to get monkeypox.

In this article, you’ll learn what monkeypox looks like on dogs, how the infection spreads, and why researchers believe dogs can get monkeypox despite limited real-world cases. We’ll also let you know how to protect yourself and your pet if you’re infected with monkeypox.

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What Is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox (Mpox)1 is an infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus, which is related to smallpox. Small mammals in Central and West Africa are believed to naturally harbor this virus. Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 in a population of research monkeys in Denmark.

The monkeypox virus can spread from animals to humans, between infected humans, and, in some cases, from humans to animals. The first case of Mpox in humans was reported in 1970. Most cases occur in the area of origin, but global outbreaks have also occurred, often traced to imported animals.

Monkeypox is spread by close contact with infected people or animals, including secretions like saliva. It can also spread via surfaces contacted by an infected individual, but that is thought to be less likely.

Dogs and Monkeypox

Scientists have confirmed monkeypox in numerous mammal species, including squirrels, chinchillas, prairie dogs, and apes. During the 2022 global outbreak of monkeypox, one suspected case of human-to-dog transmission occurred in France. The dog developed skin lesions and tested positive for the monkeypox virus by use of a PCR.

Officially, the CDC states that it is “unknown” whether dogs and cats can be infected with monkeypox. However, they also officially assume any mammal can be infected based on available evidence.

Because of the strong likelihood that dogs can get monkeypox, the CDC recommends that people with mpox avoid contact with their pets while they’re contagious.

What Does Monkeypox Look Like on Dogs?

In humans, the most common signs of Mpox include skin rash or mucosal lesions, fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, and swollen lymph nodes. These signs can vary among infected individuals. With only a limited knowledge base, we aren’t completely certain what monkeypox looks like in dogs. The dog in France developed mucocutaneous lesions, including pustules in the abdomen and small ulcers in the anus consistent with those of the infected humans.

The CDC suggests watching for the following signs if your dog has been exposed to monkeypox:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing
  • Low energy levels
  • Eye and nasal discharge
  • Skin rash or blisters
  • Fever

If you notice any of these signs, especially if your dog has been exposed to someone with Mpox, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Protecting Your Dog from Monkeypox

If you’re infected with Mpox, it’s recommended that you avoid caring for your dog until you fully recover. Dogs who’ve been exposed to monkeypox, either from you or someone else, and develop signs of the disease should be kept away from people and other animals for 21 days. Keep your dog away from potentially contaminated items like bandages, bedding, or towels.

Infected people caring for their pets should limit contact as much as possible. Wash your hands before and after caring for your dog. You should also cover as much skin as possible by wearing gloves, pants, long sleeves, and a mask.

Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations to care for your dog if they’re infected with monkeypox. Protect yourself by using personal protective equipment (PPE) and washing your hands frequently. People with weak immune systems, children, and the elderly should be especially cautious and avoid contact with infected dogs altogether.

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Conclusion

Although more research is needed, it is strongly assumed that dogs can get monkeypox, and you should take precautions to prevent infection. Monkeypox is relatively uncommon outside of where it’s found naturally, so even if your dog shows signs compatible with this virus, it could be from another disease or condition. Before making any assumptions or taking drastic measures, talk to your veterinarian to properly diagnose your dog’s health condition.

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Featured Image Credit: Alexander Hagseth, Shutterstock

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