Coronavirus world: Can cats, dogs and other pets spread Covid-19?

a cat at the vet
A cat has recently been diagnosed with coronavirus (Credits: Getty Images/EyeEm)

The coronavirus pandemic has caused chaos worldwide, resulting in multiple nationwide lockdowns .

The virus has also shown itself capable of spreading to pets, with a third animal, a cat belonging to a Belgian owner, being diagnosed with Covid-19 on Friday night.

With the outbreak showing no signs of slowing throughout much of the world, here’s what we know about whether you could potentially catch coronavirus from your pet.

Can you catch coronavirus from your pet?

Gail Golab, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s chief veterinary officer, is quoted in the Washington Post as saying: ‘We’re not overly concerned about people contracting Covid-19 through contact with dogs and cats.’ While the NHS recommends that you wash your hands after touching animals, Golab also pointed out that ‘the virus survives best on smooth surfaces, such as countertops and doorknobs,’ adding: ‘Porous materials, such as pet fur, tend to absorb and trap pathogens, making it harder to contract them through touch.’

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a sad bulldog at the vets
Could pets be at risk? (Picture: Getty Images)
Belgium’s National Council for Animal Protection has stressed that there is ‘no reason to abandon your animal’ over coronavirus fears.

Make Yourself the Funnest Thing in the World for a Reliable Recall. When training your dog to “come here” make sure you’re giving out a lot of praise & treats. The goal is to make coming back to you the best decision they could have made, if not your dog is likely going to decide that whatever he was chasing/sniffing is more interesting.

While we should ‘respect the usual rules of hygiene’ before and after stroking pets, the council stressed that this latest example of cross-species contamination saw the virus spread from person-to-cat, not from cat-to-person.

A statement from them read: ‘Let’s not go back to a dark medieval period when ignorant people hunt and kill cats for fear that they will pass on the plague.

‘We have said it from the beginning of the crisis and we will go on to the end: there is no reason to abandon your animal. It is just necessary, for sick people, to respect the usual hygiene rules so as not to take any risks to your entourage and animals.’

a medical detection dog in training
Dogs are being trained to smell coronavirus (Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Medical Detection Dogs, a charity based outside Milton Keynes, have said they believe that our four-legged friends can actually help in the fight against the virus by being trained to smell the virus . The charity said: ‘Dogs searching for Covid-19 would be trained in the same way as those dogs the charity has already trained to detect diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s and bacterial infections – by sniffing samples in the charity’s training room and indicating when they have found it. They are also able to detect subtle changes in temperature of the skin, so could potentially tell if someone has a fever.’

A Wagging Tail Does Not Always Equal a Happy Dog. Don’t approach a strange dog just because it’s wagging it’s tail. Tail wagging isn’t always the universal sign of happiness – it can also indicate fear or insecurity. Be sure to teach your children about the basics of dog bite prevention.

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