Monkeypox is a disease that emerged on the scene in a big way in 2022. Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 in a group of monkeys kept for research. In 1970 the first human case was confirmed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The outbreak in 2022 was the largest and most widespread. Since then, people have been curious and scared of the disease. One of the questions that frequently comes up is whether dogs can get monkeypox and if they can get monkeypox from their owners.
Here is what you need to know and what you need to look out for when it comes to monkeypox in dogs, including what it looks like and how it spreads, along with official information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).
Dogs Can Theoretically Get Monkeypox
At the time of writing this, there has only been one confirmed case where a person transmitted monkeypox to their dog. The case occurred in Paris, France.1 Two men presented signs of monkeypox and shared their bed with the dog, an Italian Greyhound. Twelve days after the men contracted monkeypox, their dog started showing clinical signs of infection.
While there has only been one confirmed case of human-to-animal transmission of monkeypox, the case shows that such transmission is possible. This means that in the future, infected people can accidentally give their dogs monkeypox if they are infected. It is not clear if dogs can get all strains of monkeypox or only certain kinds. It is also unclear how much contact is needed for the infection to spread. It is theorized that monkeypox can only spread from humans to dogs via close continued contact, such as sleeping together, cuddling, and licking the pox wounds.
How People Can Spread Monkeypox to Dogs
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), people can spread monkeypox to dogs through the following types of behaviors:
- Sharing sleeping areas*
- Sharing food
* Confirmed as having spread monkeypox from a human to a dog.
If you have signs of monkeypox or suspect that you have been in contact with someone with monkeypox, you should avoid direct or close contact with your dog out of an abundance of caution.
What Does Monkeypox Look Like on Dogs?
Since there has only been one confirmed case of monkeypox in a dog, there has only been one description of monkeypox on a dog. The appearance of monkeypox on a dog looks a lot like how monkeypox looks on a person. The greyhound developed “multiple lesions on its skin and mucous membranes, including large, pus-filled pimples on its abdomen and an ulceration on its anus.”
If you spot any lesions, especially large open lesions or oozing ones, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. If you suspect that your dog could have monkeypox or has come in contact with monkeypox, make sure to tell your veterinarian so that they can handle the case safely and appropriately. Large lesions, oozing sores, pus-filled pimples, or sores or ulcerations should be taken very seriously and reported to your vet immediately regardless of the cause.
Can Dogs Spread Monkeypox?
Due to the infectious nature of monkeypox, dogs can theoretically spread it in the same way that humans spread it – through close contact. However, there have yet to be any confirmed cases of dog-to-human transmission or dog-to-dog transmission of monkeypox. That does not mean that such transmission is impossible, only that no such cases have been observed and confirmed.
If your dog has open or oozing sores and lesions, you should avoid any direct contact with them just to be safe. If monkeypox continues to be a prevalent disease, it is only a matter of time before cases are confirmed to spread in new ways.
Is There a Difference Between Mpox & Monkeypox?
Recently, official channels such as the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) have started referring to monkeypox as mpox. Some say that monkeypox is offensive and have stopped using the term monkey when referring to the disease. If you see mpox on any official websites, they are referring to monkeypox, just in a truncated way to avoid offense.
Functionally, there is no difference between monkeypox and mpox. They are the same disease, just going under two different names. If monkeypox evolves or develops into a new strain, it will get a new variant or moniker to differentiate it from others.
Dogs can technically get monkeypox, but up until this point, it has been incredibly rare. Only one case has been confirmed where a person transmitted monkeypox to their dog. This case demonstrates that such transmission is possible. Certain precautions should be taken if you believe that you have come in contact with monkeypox in order to prevent possible transmission. Consult your veterinarian and the CDC for official guidance.
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