Monkeypox is an infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus. While it has been present around the world for decades, mostly in Africa, there hasn’t been a large-scale outbreak of monkeypox among people until 2022, when monkeypox began to spread more widely among humans.
As of August 23, 2022, there were 15,443 confirmed human monkeypox cases in the United States. Any mammal, human or animal, can get monkeypox through close contact with infected bodily fluids.
In response to the rising numbers of monkeypox, and its potential to spread among vulnerable populations, monkeypox was declared a global emergency on July 23, 2022, by the World Health Organization and a national public health emergency by the White House on August 4, 2022.
While the focus on monkeypox has been human-to-human transmission, a recent case involved human-to-dog transmission as a dog was infected in France after being in close physical contact with their pet parents.
It is important to remember that this is a developing situation, and more continues to be learned about this disease.
What Is Monkeypox?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), monkeypox is a disease caused by the Monkeypox virus and is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox in humans. It was first discovered in colonies of research monkeys in 1958. While monkeypox symptoms in humans are similar to those of smallpox, monkeypox is less contagious and less severe than smallpox.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of monkeypox in humans include a rash that may initially look like pimples or blisters and may be located on or near the genitals or anus, and could also be present on the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth. Other symptoms may include fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, muscle aches and backache, headache, and respiratory symptoms.
How Does Monkeypox Spread from Humans to Dogs?
In what’s known as spillback (transmission of pathogens from humans to animals), the dog in France is believed to have been infected with monkeypox through close contact with infected people in the household, including sleeping in the same bed.
Monkeypox can spread through direct contact with the rash, scabs, or body fluids of an infected person or by touching objects an infected person has touched or used, including bedding and clothing. Other close contact that may result in spread of disease from humans to dogs includes:
- Sharing sleeping areas
- Sharing food
Currently, infection with monkeypox virus is confirmed using tests that detect viral DNA in spots like pimples or crusts on the pet.
Signs of Monkeypox in Dogs
If you live in a household with monkeypox present or suspect a dog in the house may have become infected, look for the following symptoms:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Pimple- or blister-like rash, especially on abdomen or anus
- Reddened eyes
- Runny or crusty nose or eyes
- Low appetite
What to Do If You Think Your Dog Has Monkeypox
If you think your dog may have monkeypox, separate them from any other animals in the house and minimize contact with people as much as possible. This limited contact and separation from other animals should ideally continue for at least 21 days after signs first appeared or until the dog has fully recovered.
Any humans in the household should be tested for monkeypox to determine if the virus is indeed present. Be sure to wash any bedding, food and water bowls, toys, and clothing that your dog may have used. Do not wipe or bathe your dog with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, hand sanitizer, counter-cleaning wipes, or other surface cleaners. All these products pose a danger to your dog.
Treatment of Monkeypox in Dogs
Treatment at this time consists of isolating your dog within your home and treating any secondary bacterial skin infections. Contact your veterinarian for testing and specific treatment recommendations for your dog.
Can Dogs Pass Monkeypox to Other Pets?
Dogs infected with monkeypox can potentially spread the disease to humans or other animals, including dogs, potentially rabbits, and mice. It is unknown at this time whether cats can be infected with monkeypox.
Monkeypox is an ongoing health issue, with more information learned each day. Contact your veterinarian if you believe your dog may have monkeypox and be sure to get tested. A confirmed diagnosis of any human in the house will help with diagnosing and treating your pet. Your veterinarian can assist you in reporting the case in your dog if confirmed and guide you in safely isolating your dog in your home while they recover.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pets in the Home. August 2022
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Monkeypox in Animals. August 2022.
Worms and Germs Blog. Human-to-Dog Monkeypox, France. August 2022.
Featured Image: iStock/Eva Blanco
Help us make PetMD better
Was this article helpful?