Last Updated: 03 Jun 2020 10:35am

What is the risk of a companion animal contracting or spreading the coronavirus?

There is very little evidence that cats and dogs or any other common pet animal species can become infected with or develop disease or are able to effectively transmit the coronavirus.

The risk of coronavirus transmission to humans from fur or animal coats is assessed as low. However, animals in close proximity to infected humans may become contaminated and act as a vehicle (fomite) for carrying the coronavirus.

Depending on the animal housing environment, studies show that coronavirus survival on fur without any treatment is unlikely to exceed two days under room temperature and conditions extrapolated from limited studies on the closely related SARS CoV virus.

My animal may have come into contact with a person with COVID-19. What should I do?

It is recommended animals in contact with humans with COVID-19 should be washed immediately before entering any type of alternative accommodation including other households, boarding kennels, animal shelters and before a visit to the vet.

If contact with a human COVID-19 case has occurred, it is also recommended that people with adequate PPE transport the animal to the arranged destination for further treatment and care, ensuring appropriate hygiene procedures are also met.

Shampoo, soaps and detergents effectively applied, destroy the coronavirus. Any human shampoo or soap is fine for use on animals.

A hot detergent wash is recommended for cleaning pet bedding and other associated items.

Animal-human face contact should be minimised and appropriate PPE and hygiene procedures used according to the coronavirus risk context.

Hand hygiene is essential before and after handling your pets, as well as their food and water bowls.

Visits to veterinary clinics, animal shelters and boarding kennels

Just like many other businesses, in the current climate, veterinary clinics, animal shelters and boarding kennels require an appointment before any visit and prefer payment by credit card. Physical distancing rules apply.

In the current situation, some veterinary services may not be available.

It is very important that the coronavirus risk status of the household is clearly communicated to veterinary clinics or alternative accommodation facilities before visiting so they can take appropriate measures.

A coronavirus risk assessment should be applied to species such as horses, livestock and birds to assess the risk of contamination and the need for decontamination.

This risk assessment is a series of questions:

  • Is there anyone in contact who has COVID in the last 2 days?
  • Is there any possible contact with a COVID contaminated situation?
  • Do I routinely touch, pat, cuddle the animal?
  • Is it practical to wash the animal?
  • Will washing adversely affect the health of the animals?

There is a potential coronavirus risk with ferrets and extra caution should be taken with this species if they have been exposed to an infected owner.

Where can I find more information?