Due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak, clients have concerns regarding the health and welfare of their pets. We would like to assure you that currently there is no evidence pet dogs or cats can be a source of infection to humans or other animals. There is also only limited evidence that companion animals can become infected with SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Alpha-corona viruses can cause mild diarrhoea in dogs and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) in cats, but these are not associated with the beta-coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The recent coronavirus outbreak in greyhounds in Western Australia was due to this “enteric” coronavirus, not COVID-19.
There is a vaccination available for dogs against the enteric coronavirus, however there is no evidence that this will protect against COVID-19. It is advised not to use this vaccine in the face of the current outbreak.
The reported companion dog in Hong Kong that tested “weak positive” to COVID-19, had no symptoms, was found to only carry low levels of viral components (RNA). This may indicate that the dog had a low level of infection or may have tested weak positive due to environmental contamination.
We do recommend owners take precautionary steps around their pets:
- Wash your hand before and after interacting with your pet.
- Avoid sharing food or allowing your pet lick your face or mouth.
- If you are sick restrict close contact with your pet or if close contact is unavoidable wear a face mask if available.
- If your dog has been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19 but is well, there is currently no evidence that the virus is spread from companion animals to people or other animals.
- If your dog has been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19 and develops an unexplainable illness please contact us or your public health official.
We are continuing to monitor the situation closely and will update any information and advice as needed.