Moving the discussion back to our prized pets, there are a few apparent factors that make it less likely that dogs or cats will spark a global infectious disease pandemic in humans, even though we regularly interact. For one, they are fairly separated from others of their species, making viral transmission more difficult and mixing less common. Nor do they interact very often with other animal species, provided they are kept on leash or indoors. Moreover, between grooming appointments, veterinary visits, and mandatory vaccinations, we regularly keep them clean and cared for.

All of this doesn’t make our pets immune from triggering pandemics. It is possible. In research published back in 2018, scientists from Mount Sinai noted numerous instances of pig viruses recently jumping to dogs and creating new canine influenza viruses. If this could happen, perhaps other new viruses could emerge and jump from dogs to humans…

As for cats, numerous studies conducted over the last fifty years have found that they seem to be surprisingly at risk of being infected by us.