Coronavirus and companion animals

"There's no evidence to suggest that pets can be carriers of coronavirus or can become ill from it themselves. We would urge pet owners not to panic and to not abandon their pets. 

"If you haven't tested positive for COVID-19 or been asked to stay at home and self-isolate then you can continue to interact with your pets as normal but adopt good hygiene practices including washing hands before and after touching and handling them as well as their food and items like their toys and bedding. Avoid being kissed or licked and sharing food with your pet.

"If you have been infected with coronavirus then another person within your household should care for your pet. Avoid contact with your pet including stroking, petting, being kissed or licked and sharing food. If there isn't anyone else able to look after your pet then wash your hands before and after you touch them and wear a facemask.

"If you're at all concerned, please contact your vet or doctor for more advice. Call your surgery first as some practices are asking people not to come in in an attempt to prevent any contamination."

Can coronavirus infect pets?

It is important to say that there is currently no evidence that companion animals can be infected with, or spread, the version of coronavirus which is affecting people: 2019- nCOV or Covid 2019.

Should I change my behaviour around my pets because of coronavirus?

If you have not been asked to stay at home because of the virus then you can carry on behaving with your pets as normal but wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after contact with them and use hand sanitiser. Don't touch your mouth, nose or eyes until you have washed your hands.

This is because the virus could stay on your pet's coat in the same way it might stay on a door knob or other object.

What should I do with my pets if I need to self-isolate?

If you need to stay at home for two weeks because of the virus then advice from Public Health England states that "you should try and keep away from your pets". If this isn't possible then wash your hands before and after contact with them. Your Doctor or another medical expert should also be able to advise. 

The RSPCA would recommend thinking about what your pet needs should you be required to self isolate. For example, you will need to make sure you have enough food and water for your pet, any bedding or substrate they need for their enclosure and if your pet requires regular medication, enough for the period you need to stay at home. 

As you will be unable to leave your home you won't be able to exercise your dog so having lots of toys and games to play with will keep him occupied. If you have a cat then it may also be necessary to keep them indoors, so again, think of ways you can help keep them entertained. 

In many cases, it is possible to get items quickly delivered to your door but thinking about this now can help you be prepared.

What should I do if I am infected with coronavirus?

If you are infected with coronavirus then another person within your household should care for your pet. Avoid contact with your pet including stroking, petting, being kissed or licked and sharing food. If there isn't anyone else able to look after your pet then wash your hands before and after you touch them and wear a facemask.  

My pet is ill and has been in contact with someone infected by coronavirus - what should I do?

It is best to speak to the public health official that is looking after the infected person and they will advise of the best course of action. Do not take your pet to the veterinary practice unless told to do so. If this is advised let the practice know that your pet has been in contact with someone with the virus.

I had a cat that had coronavirus and died, surely this is dangerous to pets?

There are lots of different types of coronavirus and there are versions that can infect dogs and cats. These are not the same as 2019 nCov aka Covid 19. They cannot be passed to humans or other species and usually cause mild self limiting diarrhoea, but occasionally some cats can become very ill. 

 

This information has been developed using advice for the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) members on coronavirus and companion animals, Public Health England and the World Health Organisation.