How does Coronavirus (COVID-19) affect your pets and animals?

If you are a pet owner, you’re probably worried about how Coronavirus (COVID-19) affects animals. Here’s what you need to know.

As the number of cases of Coronavirus rises in South Africa and around the world, pet owners will be happy to hear that there is no evidence at the moment that suggests that your pets may be infected by the virus.

Just like the previous SARS viruses, COVID-19 transmits primarily through droplets of coughing, sneezing, saliva, or discharge from the nose. It can also be transmitted through touching surfaces where the virus is present. Pets can generate droplets quite easily, but there seem to be significant barriers for the virus to jump from humans to animals, and vice versa.

According to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), they have not received any reports of animals including pets, livestock, wildlife or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. “Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19,” they said.

CDC also says that they do not have evidence to suggest that imported animals or animal products pose a risk for spreading COVID-19. They do however suggest that people should still be cautious and practise good hygiene around their pets to limit any risk.

How do you stay healthy around animals?

Although there is still no evidence of COVID-19 affecting animals outside of China, pet owners would still need to take into account that all animals can carry germs that can make people sick. It’s always a good idea to practise healthy habits around pets and other animals:

  • Wash your hands after handling animals, their food, waste, or supplies.
  • Practise good pet hygiene and clean up after pets properly.
  • Take pets to the vet regularly and talk to your veterinarian if you have questions about your pet’s health.

How to protect pets if you are sick?

If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed), you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. This can help ensure both you and your animals stay healthy.

  • If possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with your pet including, petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.
  • If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them.
  • Wear a mask and gloves to prevent any spread of the virus to your pet if you are sick.

For more information, visit CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website.