Animal health during COVID-19

Our pets are an important part of our families, so it’s understandable to be worried about how the coronavirus outbreak might affect our animals.

How do you care for your pets during a pandemic? Dr Mary Carr, Chief Veterinary Officer at PIRSA, has answered your biggest questions.

Caring for pets if you are quarantined or diagnosed with COVID-19

Overseas there have been a small number of pets reported that have been infected while being in the household of infected humans. There is no evidence to indicate these animals are involved in the spread of coronavirus to humans. You should treat your pets just like other members of your family while in isolation, and avoid contact with your pets and other animals

If you can't avoid contact with pets and other animals:

  • Keep your contact to a minimum.
  • Wash your hands before and after handling animals.
  • Avoid kissing, being licked by, or sharing food with your animals.
  • Prevent your animals from interacting with other people.

Remember, if your animal becomes sick, contact your veterinarian for advice. At this stage, there is no need to test animals for COVID-19.

Catching coronavirus from your pet

Currently there is no evidence to suggest that animals infected by humans are playing a role in the spread of coronavirus. The virus is driven by human-to-human transmission.

Animal fur can act like other objects and surfaces, so it is possible for the virus to be carried on your animal’s coat. This means there is a very low risk of transmission if your animal has been touched by someone who is carrying the illness.

It is extremely unlikely that you are going to catch coronavirus by petting your animal, but it is always best practice to observe good hand hygiene and wash your hands with soap and water after contact with your pet.

Walking your dog if you're in self-isolation

If you are in self-quarantine or self-isolation you must not leave your home, even to take your dog for a walk.

You also shouldn’t have any visitors during this time, so this rules out having someone else come over to walk your pet.

Instead, your dog can exercise in your backyard during this short period of time. Teaching your animal new tricks or interactive toys and games can help them burn energy and keep them entertained.

Walking your dog while social distancing

You can walk your dog if you're social distancing, as long as you follow the rules on gathering with other people and keep 1.5 metres away from others.

Vet care for your pet while you're self-isolating

If you are in self-isolation or self-quarantine and you're concerned about your pet's health, ring your vet to ask for advice. They will work with you to ensure your pet receives the care they need, which may require you to arrange for someone else to take your animal to the vet. It’s important to be prepared in case this happens and remain at home to help keep their staff safe and healthy.

Other people patting your pets

Because of the small risk of transmission from your pet’s fur, it is best to not allow others to touch your animals at this time.

More information

Page Last Reviewed: 03 Apr 2020
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