Can pets catch Coronavirus? Updated

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It’s no surprise that a lot of pet owners are worried for their four-legged friends during this time of uncertainty. Leading vet charity PDSA is on hand to answer pet owners most commonly asked questions.

The good news is, current advice from Defra is that there’s no evidence to suggest that pets can be a source of infection, or that they can become sick as a result of Covid-19.

However, the charity encourages all pet owners to take sensible precautions, and follow the latest government advice, which includes washing your hands before and after any contact with your pets.

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing answers the key questions that may be on the minds of pet owners across the country.

I am self-isolating, can my pet stay with me?

Yes, in most cases your pet can stay with you, however, it’s advised to avoid close contact, such as sharing a bed. Wash your hands after touching and feeding your pet, and it’s always a good idea to avoid letting them lick your face or share your food. If you’re too unwell to look after them properly, you’ll need to arrange for someone to look after them for you. Read PDSA’s coronavirus guidance for pet owners on this.

Does my pet need to wear a mask?

No, putting a mask on your pet isn’t something we’d recommend. Wearing a face mask could be distressing for pets and may affect their ability to breathe normally, particularly in flat-faced breeds (such as Pugs or French Bulldogs). If you want to help stop the virus spreading, make sure you thoroughly wash your hands with warm water and soap regularly.

Can pets spread Covid-19?

The virus is passed from person to person, mainly through coughing and sneezing. There are no confirmed instances of transmission of Covid-19 from pets to people. However, the virus could be passed from person to person via a surface such as a dog’s fur, collar and lead.

It’s best to follow standard good hygiene practices, such as regularly washing your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water, especially after handling or feeding your pet. It’s always sensible to avoid letting your pet lick your face.

There is no need to give up or quarantine pets and we would urge owners not to panic. Pets can be a great source of comfort, and a daily dog walk will be a good thing for everyone’s physical and mental health.

What should I do if my pet starts coughing and sneezing?

There is currently no evidence to suggest that dogs and cats can become ill from the Covid-19 virus so don’t panic.

If you notice any signs of illness in your pet we would advise calling your vet as usual in the first instance. They will advise you on the best course of action based on your circumstances, but please be aware that most vet practices will be operating very differently from usual. Please don’t take your pet to a vet practice unannounced and bear with your local vet practice as they work to follow Government guidance in this unprecedented situation.

As a pet owner, what can I do to prevent the spread of Covid-19?

The best thing that everyone can do is follow Government advice to stay at home.

Following good hygiene practices, such as washing your hands frequently, especially before and after leaving the house for essentials, and handling or feeding pets, also helps to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

It’s a good idea to have enough essential pet supplies to last up to two weeks and to make contacts in your local area who could drop off items to you if needed.

I can’t leave the house but my pet needs veterinary care or a prescription, what should I do?

It’s best to give your vet a call to discuss your situation and see how they may be able to help. Do be aware that many vet practices may have additional procedures in place, and may need to prioritise emergencies in the current situation. The veterinary profession is doing everything possible to ensure essential and emergency services can be maintained during this difficult time, within Government guidance.

For more information on pets and coronavirus, visit our website at www.pdsa.org.uk/coronavirus.

For many people, their pet is their only companion. Now more than ever, PDSA needs your help to treat sick and injured pets and keep families together. PDSA is urging the public to donate what they can to help keep them continue their vital service: www.pdsa.org.uk.

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