Coronavirus and pets: what you need to know

WORRIED pet owners have been assured their furry companions won't spread coronavirus.

Nadia Crighton from Pet Insurance Australia said it was concerning to hear reports that some companion animals' welfare was at stake from false information that pets can spread the virus.

"Some people are getting rather erratic and behaving in very unusual ways since the outbreak," she said.

"Sadly this could seriously affect the welfare and safety of some of our companion animals."

Ms Crighton said the World Organisation for Animal Health, WSAVA Global Veterinary Community and One Health Committees have been investigating, monitoring and suggesting good advice when it comes to pets around this outbreak.

"To date, the spread of COVID-19 is from human to human only and there is no evidence that companion animals can spread the disease and very limited evidence that pets can be infected with it.

"There is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare."

University of Sydney professor, Jacqui Norris, is an expert in veterinary microbiology and infectious diseases in the School of Veterinary Science.

She said there has been only one dog of a patient with COVID-19 in Hong Kong who has had a weak positive result on samples taken from its mouth and nasal cavity.

"This means very low levels of the viral genetic material were found consistent with either contamination from the owner or very low-grade infection," she said.

"There are no tests so far that have shown whole viruses capable of transmitting to others."

"Dogs and cats have their own specific coronaviruses which they don't share with us and have never been reported previously with human coronaviruses such as those causing the common cold or during the SARS outbreak in 2003."

A resident wearing a mask walks her dog on the streets of Beijing. Pet cats and dogs cannot pass the new coronavirus on to humans, but they can test positive for low levels of the pathogen if they catch it from their owners, according to Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department after a dog in quarantine tested weakly positive for the virus. Picture: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan
A resident wearing a mask walks her dog on the streets of Beijing. Pet cats and dogs cannot pass the new coronavirus on to humans, but they can test positive for low levels of the pathogen if they catch it from their owners, according to Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department after a dog in quarantine tested weakly positive for the virus. Picture: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

Pet Insurance Australia has urged all pet owners to be sensible and keep updated with the facts.

Those concerned about the welfare of any companion animal should report it as quickly as possible.

Guidelines have been laid out for pet owners who contract the virus by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

They include avoiding your pet as you would any other person.

"This is more of a precautionary move until more information is known about the virus," Ms Crighton says.

WSAVA advises to ask a family member or friend to care for your pet if you do become sick, or if unable to do so and practice very good hygiene.

"Basic things like ensuring you wash your hands when handling your pets food or supplies and avoiding kissing, licking or sharing food.

"Also consider using a face mask for yourself. Stay calm and ensure your pet is well looked after and be prepared that if you do get sick, you have everything your pet needs. "Having extra pet food and pet medications on hand is always a good idea, particularly coming into the flu season."

PIA suggests only sourcing information from reputable websites and not social media or unreliable or fake news.



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