At this point there is no evidence that pets can contract Coronavirus (otherwise known as COVID-19) in a way that makes them sick. Although two dogs in Hong Kong have tested positive for the virus, they have not been reported as showing symptoms.
We have not completely ruled out the possibility of animals’ bodies serving as ‘fomites’ (which is an object or material likely to carry infection if touched). For example, if someone who has the virus sneezed on an animals fur and another person immediately touched the same spot, there may be a chance of transmission however, porous and fibrous surfaces like pet fur are less likely to transmit the virus than hard surfaces. The American Veterinary Medical Association advises that the probability of becoming infected through contact with the virus on animal fur is less than direct contact with an infected person’s saliva or mucus, or through contact with contaminated non-porous surfaces.
To be safe, hand hygiene is essential before and after handling your pets, as well as their toys, food and water bowls. Pet owners who may be infected with the virus are advised to keep their pets with them, but minimise close contact and handling as a precautionary measure.
Practices such as disinfecting pets after going for a walk may compromise their welfare as many disinfectants are toxic to our pets. Instead, ensure to keep a safe distance from other people when walking pets outdoors and sanitise your hands afterwards.
It is highly unlikely that companion animals will contribute to the spread of COVID-19. Practice good hand hygiene with your pets as with the rest of your family. Do not wash your pets with any disinfectants, unless it is specifically a pet friendly shampoo. Continue to exercise your pets outdoors, keeping in mind to minimise contact with other people or pets – getting some fresh air and sunshine during this difficult time is essential for you and your furbabies.
1. There is no evidence that companion animals can spread the disease to humans or other animals
2. The main method of transmission of COVID-19 is human to human
3. There have been no reports of the virus in domestic animals or wildlife in Australia
4. The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) advises there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare