We know that pet lovers around Australia and the world are asking questions about Coronavirus/COVID-19. We’re here to help you better care for your pet, and together with Greencross Vets we’re ensuring you have all the essential information on COVID-19, and what this means for you and your pet.
Dr Magdoline Awad, Chief Veterinary Officer Greencross Vets and Dr Ron Baker, General Manager Specialist & Emergency Centres, have developed a comprehensive FAQ, and here are the essential things you need to know:
- There is currently no known reason to believe that pets in Australia can spread COVID-19.
- To date, the Australian Veterinary Association has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19.
- We always recommend following everyday preventive hygiene actions to help prevent the spread of illness.
If you have any questions about your pet’s health or well-being please contact your local Greencross Vets team.
Frequently Asked Questions about Coronavirus/COVID-19 and Pets
1. Can the Coronavirus/COVID-19 virus infect dogs and cats?
The good news is that there is currently no evidence that pets are involved in the spread of COVID-19 or that they can be infected or become sick. Whilst there was a case in Hong Kong where a dog belonging to a confirmed COVID-19 pet owner tested positive, the dog did not become unwell. Further testing confirmed the dog was only weakly positive. There have been no other reported cases globally.
2. Can pets spread the disease? I.e. If a pet has been in contact with someone who is diagnosed with COVID-19, can the pet spread the disease to other people or pets?
There is currently no evidence that pet dogs or cats can be a source of infection to other animals or to humans. This virus is being spread from humans to humans and there is no evidence that pets are involved.
3. There is a lot of information online about dogs, cats and coronavirus. Why is this?
The term ‘coronavirus’ defines a broad family (type) of viruses which have been around for a long time, some of which only affect dogs and cats. Dog and cat coronaviruses are different to COVID-19 and cannot infect people. Unfortunately, due to the similar name, these terms may appear in historical articles or online forums and this can cause unnecessary confusion, panic or concern.
There are vaccinations available to protect dogs and cats from infectious diseases including the specific canine coronavirus (there is no equivalent vaccine for cats). It’s important to vaccinate our pet dogs and cats for common diseases such as parvovirus and upper respiratory viruses to keep them safe and healthy. Please talk with your Greencross Vet for a tailored vaccine program to suit your pet. Remember, pets are not involved in the spread of COVID-19, you do not need to be alarmed.
4. How can pet parents protect themselves and their pets?
Remember, the way you can catch COVID-19 is from exposure to an infected person. Therefore, practice standard precautionary hygiene measures as recommended by the relevant Health Departments in your state or territory. This includes thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water (or alcohol gels), distancing yourself from people who are unwell, in some cases wearing face masks and avoid touching your face.
We recommend following good hygiene whenever interacting with your pets, this advice has not changed. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching any animal. Avoid sharing food with your pets or letting your pets kiss or lick your face or mouth. Keep your pet’s vaccinations and parasite treatments (including worming) up to date and maintain regular veterinary health checks. If you suspect your pet is unwell or you have any concerns about your pet’s health, give your local Greencross Vets team a call.
If you are required to self-isolate for 14 days, this may impact your pet’s daily routine and you may need to keep them at home with you. You can plan-ahead by ensuring that you have two weeks of pet food and medication on hand.
5. Should pet parents avoid contact with pets or other animals if they’re sick with COVID-19?
If you have been diagnosed positive for COVID-19 and you are forced to self-isolate, we know that pets can be a source of comfort and companionship during these times. However, we recommend avoiding hugging, kissing and having them lick your face and we always advise that you wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling your pets.
Please do not consider abandoning your pet in these times of uncertainty. If you have any concerns, please contact our Greencross Vets team.
6. My pet needs to go to see a vet and I am self-isolating or sick. What should I do?
If you are self-isolating and your pet needs to be seen by a vet, you should ring the clinic ahead of your appointment. We recommend that you ask someone else to accompany your pet to our clinics, however, ensure you can be contacted by phone so that our vets can keep you updated.
Our vets may be able to do a telemedicine consultation with you and your pet. This will depend on your pets’ condition as well as other factors so please contact us for advice on what is best for your particular situation.
This information is referenced by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). It must be emphasised that the situation is rapidly evolving, and we encourage you to monitor the websites of the associations listed above to stay up to date with the latest information.
Information is accurate as of time of publishing, 4pm AEST 19 March 2020.