We understand that these are certainly strange and disconcerting times for everyone. We also understand just how important our pets are to us, especially in times of uncertainty and stress. Our pets mean everything and ensuring their health and safety is of the utmost importance.
We want to help guide you through these uncertain times by providing clarity as much as we can and try to help answer some questions that many pet owners have at this time. There is so much alarmist media being circulated at the moment. Our vets here at Vetsure are in constant contact with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and British Veterinary Association and offer a good resource for the latest advice. Note that researchers are learning about Covid 19 on a daily basis so please bear in mind the date at the top of this document and we will keep updating as and when required.
Can my pet spread the disease?
There have been recent reported cases of a dog in Hong Kong testing positive for Coronavirus and there have also been some reports of cats being artificially and successfully infected with the virus under extreme laboratory conditions – and then passing the virus to other laboratory cats in neighbouring cages. However, there is currently no evidence that pets that might be infected with the virus show symptoms of disease in natural settings – nor is there any evidence that the virus is transmitted between our pets in natural settings or on to humans. Research is currently being undertaken as to how long the virus can survive on different surfaces. It could reasonably be possible that the virus might survive on the coat of our pets – as it might survive on any surface. However, there is no evidence to suggest that this is a significant risk and the same precautions you would be taking anyway should be followed to reduce any such potential (see below).
What precautionary measures should be taken?
Again, there is currently no evidence to say that our pets are playing a part in this human disease. However, because animals and people can sometimes share diseases, it is still strongly recommended that people who are sick, or suspect they may be sick with COVID-19, should limit contact with their pet until more advice is provided.
Similar to the recommendations given to us all in order to reduce and limit the spread of this disease, proper hygiene should always be implemented wherever possible. This means regular hand washing, before and after handling animals, their food, or supplies. You should also try to stop your pet licking you as much as possible, if not completely.
If you are sick, or under medical attention for this virus, you should avoid all close contact with your pet. If possible, have another member of your household care for your pet. If you have no choice but to care for them yourself, still maintain good hygiene and wear a face mask where possible. Under such situations your cat should also be kept indoors (providing a litter tray is available of course) with dogs allowed outside for brief periods only to allow them to use the toilet.
As per Government advice, all non-essential vet visits should be avoided. Veterinary surgeries will only be providing emergency treatment during this time. View our infographic for advice of what is classed as an emergency. If you are still concerned or require any further advice, please phone your veterinary practice directly, or you are welcome to call us for a chat on 0800 050 2022.
More information regarding everything in this article can be found on the RVC and BVA. You can also find up to date information of the World Organisation for Animal Health website.