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.
- 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.
Advice to pet owners who are confirmed to have COVID-19 or are self-isolating:
- Keep your pets with you at home if your pet has been exposed to a person in your household with COVID-19 infection
- Minimise contact with your pet, and especially avoid any close contact-no petting, snuggling, don’t allow your pet to kiss or lick your face and don’t share food with your pets.
- Maintain good hand hygiene before and after handling your pet and their food and water bowls.
- Get someone else in the household to care for your pet if at all possible
- If you are infected or at risk of infection then please develop a plan for the care of your pet in the event that you become hospitalised.
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 to humans. Although there have been a few dogs and cats that have tested positive for the virus, there is no evidence that dogs get sick and limited evidence that cats do. The pets that tested positive were in close contact with their confirmed COVID-19 pet owner so the transmission to the pet was likely from the infected owner.
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 no evidence that pets are a source for human infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. The current spread of coronavirus is via human to human transmission.
- A small study recently found that cats and ferrets were especially susceptible to infection and could pass the virus to each other, but this was a research study where the animals were deliberately infected with extremely high doses of the virus. The study didn’t find that these animals could then pass on the virus to people.
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 to humans so 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 routinely. This includes thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water (or alcohol gels), distancing yourself from people who are unwell and in some cases wearing face masks to 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.
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 required to self-isolate, we know that pets can be a source of comfort and companionship during these times. However, we recommend following the recommendations if you have pets:
- If you are sick with COVID-19, you should maintain separation from your pet, just as would be done for another member of the household. If possible, someone else should take care of your pet.
- If there is no one else to care for your pet, minimise close contact with your pet-wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling your pet, avoid hugging, kissing, and interacting closely and do not allow your pet to lick you. Keep your pet indoors. Don’t attempt to disinfect your pet, especially cats as this could be dangerous.
- If you are not sick you still need to practice good hygiene around your pet-wash your hands before and after contact and feeding. Food and water dishes, toys, and bedding should also be washed regularly.
- Whilst we are practicing social distancing, we can still walk our pets so long as we maintain the required distance from other people and pets. Try to avoid petting other people’s dogs-treat these pets like members of another household and keep the required distance
- Keep your pet indoors with you, away from other people. they are part of your immediate household and should be isolated with you.
- Please do not consider abandoning your pet in these times of uncertainty. If you have any concerns, please contact your local 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 or sick and your pet needs to be seen by a vet, you should ring your Greencross Vets 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 telephone or video consultation (over the phone) 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.
This is an evolving situation and information may change as we receive more information.
Information is accurate as of time of publishing, 5pm AEST 20 April 2020.