Advice for Pet Owners

by Dr. Deshaylia Moodley, AWL NSW Senior Veterinarian

As COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic, Animal Welfare League NSW is urging pet owners to be vigilant however not to act drastically in any way that compromises the welfare of their pets.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 refers to a disease in humans that is caused by a form of Coronavirus, named SARS-COV2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – Coronavirus 2). Coronavirus is a family of viruses that are commonly found in both humans and animals. Coronavirus found in companion animals (dogs and cats) is a common finding. The virus can reside in the animal’s body without actually making them sick. It is important to remember that these forms of coronavirus are different from SARS-COV2 and there is no evidence to show that humans can develop COVID-19 from dog or cat Coronavirus.

How is it transmitted?

The primary route of transmission of SARS-COV2 remains HUMAN TO HUMAN contact. There is currently only one report of a pet dog in Hong Kong that was found to have contracted the virus from its owner, who had tested positive for the virus. The virus to date has not caused any clinical signs in that dog. There is no evidence that companion animals can spread the disease to humans. Therefore, there is no reason to take action against companion animals which may compromise their welfare.

What precautionary measures can you take to protect your pets?

  • Basic hand washing hygiene, especially when handling and caring for your animals is recommended. Wash your hands before and after touching your pet, handling their food or supplies.
  • According to the Australian Veterinary Association – Alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) is the gold standard for hand hygiene. ABHR containing 60-80% alcohol are the most effective.
  • Avoid kissing your pet or allowing them to lick your face.
  • It is recommended that people who have contracted COVID-19 disease limit their contact with their pets. If this is unavoidable, good hand hygiene practices should be used as well as wearing a face mask.

Remember to stay calm and if your pet exhibits any signs of illness, seek veterinary attention.

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