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Do pets need to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Two Charlotte veterinarians say getting your pet vaccinated for COVID-19 isn't an option right now but interest is growing.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A recent article from the New York Post about dogs and cats possibly needing the COVID-19 vaccine has pet owners talking on social media. 

With vaccine supplies in short supply, some people are wondering when their pet would be eligible for a vaccine, if it's safe or whether they need it at all. 

As Wake Up Charlotte viewers know, our pets are a big part of our lives, as well as our viewers. So, WCNC Charlotte's Rachel Lundberg went to two Charlotte veterinarians to get the answers. 

So, do our dogs and cats need to be vaccinated for COVID-19?  Here's what we learned after talking to two Charlotte veterinarians. 

Marnie Gallagher, doctor of veterinarian medicine, at Armstrong Animal Clinic and Dr. Fred Wininger, a neurologist neurosurgeon at Charlotte Animal Referral & Emergency, agreed that household pets are not a big concern for either suffering severe illness or spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

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"There have been no cases where an animal, specifically dog and cat, has transmitted it back to people," Wininger said. "...and then also, animals that do get infected, which is rare, are often asymptomatic."

For the cases confirmed in animals, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) tracks each diagnosis through an interactive map, which shows one case in South Carolina and two in North Carolina over the course of this pandemic. 

"The one in North Carolina was last July, and it was a house dog, then there was a dog last November that was in a shelter situation," Gallagher said.

But even though the numbers are low, there is *interest* in potentially vaccinating our pets for COVID-19 down the road, especially following outbreaks detected in minks, which the New York Post also wrote about.

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Enough *interest* that there are some companies that are looking at developing vaccines, Gallagher says. 

"More for the big cats and minx than anything else, but none have been approved by the USDA," she added. 

So, at this time, dogs and cats cannot get the COVID-19 vaccine, nor is it believed necessary. 

"It is likely safe on most animals, but the efficacy of it in animals is unknown, and no dog or cat has died from the virus," Wininger said. 

To read more about what the CDC says regarding COVID-19 and animals, click here.

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