COVID-19 & Pets: FAQs for Pet Owners
Can pets get COVID-19 from humans?
Many of you may have read or heard about the reports of two dogs in Hong Kong that were tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus after being exposed to people infected with COVID-19. Neither of the dogs showed any clinical signs, nor were infectious loads (high levels) of the virus isolated from either dog.
Similarly, a cat in Belgium, who belonged to a person tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus, has also been recently reported to be tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The most recent case is a tiger that was tested positive for COVID-19 which displayed signs of respiratory illness at a zoo in New York. Investigations are still ongoing but it was believed that the tiger became sick after being exposed to an employee who was actively shedding the virus. It appears that whilst both cats and dogs have been tested positive for the virus, dogs do not seem to show any clinical signs, but the cats do. This is a trend seen similarly with the SARS virus.
This virus is constantly evolving and we are still learning about this virus. So far, reports indicate that infected humans can pass the virus to animals. There has been no reports, however, of infecting animals spreading the virus to humans
Can I get COVID-19 from my pets?
Up to date, there is no evidence that pets play a role in spreading COVID-19. It is very rare for companion animals to become naturally infected with SARS-CoV-2. There is also little to no evidence that they become sick from the virus if they are infected. During these difficult times, people and pets should stay together as they can provide companionship, support as well as comfort.
What measures can I take to protect my pet from COVID-19 during this time?
During this time, please practice social distancing even when you’re taking your pets out for walks.
If you are suspected to have COVID-19, please restrict contact with your pets and other animals as you would with other people. Make arrangements to have your pet taken care of by another family member instead. While there are no reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in Singapore, it is recommended that suspected/confirmed patients with COVID-19 should limit contact with animals until we learn more about it. This helps ensure both you and your pets stay healthy.
If no other arrangements can be made if you are sick, washing hands before and after interaction is highly recommended, as well as wearing a face mask when you are interacting with your pet. As much as possible, avoid contact with your pet including petting, snuggling and being kissed or licked. Try to keep your pets indoors to limit contact with other animals too. Find out more on how you can protect your pets here.
Practice good habits to protect your pets from COVID-19 even if you’re not sick
It is always good to practice healthy habits around pets even if there is no evidence that suggests your pets might be a source of COVID-19 infection at the moment. Some of these practices are as the following:
- Practice good pet hygiene and clean up after them properly
- Wash your hands after handling them, their food or wastes
- If you have any questions about their health, talk to your veterinarian!
Can I still take my pets out for walks during this time?
Yes, you can still take your dogs out for walks during this time. Fresh air and exercise for you and your pets are encouraged to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is however recommended that during the walks, you practice social distancing. (The Singapore government recommends being at least 1m apart, and definitely no gathering in groups whilst your dogs play!)
Like us, pets should generally stay away from other pets of different households. Yes, this means your furkids will no longer be able to sniff their favourite furpals for the time being. After walks, it is also recommended that your pets get wiped down with scent free pet wipes. Their paws can be washed with diluted antibacterial soap as well to be thorough.
Remember, your pets should not wear face masks. Apart from it being uncomfortable, face masks are not guaranteed to protect your pet from disease transmission and it can cause breathing difficulties!
- In some situations, there have been cases of spread of the COVID-19 virus from humans to animals.
- There is no evidence that pets can spread COVID-19 to humans.
- If you are a suspected/confirmed patient, have someone else take care of your pet during this time. If that is not possible, limit handling your pets and wear a mask when doing so.
- Wash your hands before AND after handling your pets.
- Practice social distancing even on dog walks to protect you AND your pet.