Vets find UK COVID variant link to possible myocarditis in pets

Vets have reported the first cases of infection of cats and dogs with the so-called UK B117 variant of SARS-CoV-2 – and that all developed atypical illness including “severe cardiac abnormalities secondary to myocarditis”.

In a study that is yet to be peer-reviewed, but is under review in the journal Nature, authors including cardiologists Luca and Heidi Ferasin of The Ralph Veterinary Referral Centre in Buckinghamshire report what is thought to be the first cases of infection of domestic cats and dogs by the variant.


In the preliminary data, published in bioRxiv, an increase in domestic dogs and cats presented with myocarditis at The Ralph’s cardiology department is noted. The surge – an increase in incidence from 1.4% to 12.8% (8.5% in cats and 4.3% in dogs) – mimicked the curve and timeline of the COVID-19 human pandemic between mid-December and the end of January, when the UK returned to lockdown largely due to the spread of the COVID-19 variant first identified in Kent in September.

None of the patients had a previous history of heart disease, and their clinical presentation was similar, namely acute onset of lethargy, inappetence, tachypnoea/dyspnoea (secondary to the presence of congestive heart failure) and, in some, syncopal events.

Owner illness

Most of the owners and handlers of pets with myocarditis had developed COVID-19 respiratory symptoms between three and six weeks before their pets became ill, and many of the owners tested PCR positive for COVID-19.

Armed with this knowledge and the increase in cases in the period, samples were taken and submitted for serological and virological analysis at MIVEGEC laboratory in Montpellier. Six of an 11 investigated animals were shown to have been SARS-CoV-2 positive or carrying the antibodies – three of them with the B117 variant.

Credit: Vets find UK COVID variant link to possible myocarditis in pets

(Vet Times, 2021)

Vet Times. (2021). Vets find UK COVID variant link to possible myocarditis in pets [online] Available at: