Monkeypox and pets: What you need to know

Yes, you can give monkeypox to your pet and vice versa. Here's what you need to know.

So far it hasn’t happened; there are no confirmed reports of any human pet transfer of monkeypox in the United States, and chances are slim, according to the CDC. 

But it is possible, and veterinarians like Dr Kevin Schlanger at Brent Air Animal Hospital in Culver City have gotten notifications and guidelines to pass on to their clients. 

Pet owners who are exposed or sick with the virus should avoid contact with their animals. If possible, have someone else take care of them, but if you were exposed to the virus before you came into contact with your dog or cat (for example, if you were traveling when you got sick), both you and your pet will need to quarantine, but even then, hygiene and distance are big factors. 

Washing hands before or after touching Fluffy is also a must.

It’s especially important to keep Fido away from bandages and body fluids.

Good cleaning is essential, especially of their bedding (and yours), towels, toys and food bowls. 

There are also guidelines as what not to do, as in do not give or wash your animals with Clorox or any harsh astringent, do not put a mask on your pet, and if you suspect they have been exposed, do not surrender, abandon or euthanize them. Just call your vet, and they will tell you what to do. 

Again, chances are slim, and the last time pets caught monkeypox from humans in the U.S. was in 2003, in what was a very targeted exposure  - domesticated prairie dogs, kept in close quarters with imported rats and mice that had the virus. 

The rodents passed it to the dogs, and it spread to the prairie dog handlers with approximately 70 people getting sick in the Midwest. 

Other pets, like rabbits, mice, rats, chinchillas and hedgehogs can catch it, as well. 

Again, no reports of it happening in the U.S., with this latest outbreak. 

There is no specific monkeypox treatment or vaccine for pets, but the CDC is assessing the potential role of post-exposure smallpox vaccinations for dogs and cats, as well as the antiviral drug cidofovir for treatment .