Updated: Mar 20
According to international health experts, there is no evidence that pets can contract or transmit COVID-19 at this time.
The outbreak is an evolving situation and there is evidence that the virus can survive for hours on some surfaces, thus it is important to practice appropriate hand hygiene before and after handling your pets.
Health experts are advising that if you’e feeling unwell, you should implement social distancing between yourself and your pets from other people and have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding, and playing with your pet. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), if you have a service animal or you must care for your pet, don’t share food, kiss, or hug them, and wash your hands before and after any contact.
This can help ensure both you and your animals stay healthy. At no stage should pet owners take measures that may compromise the welfare of their pets.
As always, animal owners should include pets in their emergency preparedness plans, including keeping a two-week supply of food and medications on hand.
Addressing the misinformation about dogs testing positive in Hong Kong:
According to the AVMA as of March 12, 2020, there were two pet dogs under quarantine in separate rooms in a facility at the Hong Kong Port of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge; one dogs tested as a “weak positive” and the second pet dog has had negative results of tests for the virus.
A weak positive for the one dog suggests that there was a small quantity of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the nose-mouth samples. The test doesn’t distinguish whether the samples contain intact viruses, which are infectious, or only fragments of the RNA which the dog could’ve picked up from the environment, such as licking furniture that an infected human touched, as the virus can last on surfaces for various durations of time. This dog has not shown any signs of illness and infectious disease experts, and multiple international human and animal health organisations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets can spread COVID-19 to other animals, including people.
For the best and most current information on animal care, it is advised that pet owners should contact their local veterinarian.
Below I have attached links which pet owners may find useful:
The American Veterinary Medical Association COVID-19: FAQs FOR PET OWNERS
World Small Animal Veterinary Association Scientific and One Health Committees Advisory Document
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention COVID-19 and Animals