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COVID-19 and pets – what should pet owners observe?

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a significant threat to companion animals. Here’s what you can do to make living with your pet cat or dog safer.

Social distancing applies to pet cats and dogs too.

Four isolated cases reported in Hong Kong and Belgium, have pets tested positive after being in close contact with COVID-19 infected owners. 

In Hong Kong, the policy requires pets of COVID-19 patients to be quarantined, while China faced issues of massive number of abandoned animals during its lockdown period.

COVID-19 and pets - can my cat and dog get infected or spread the virus?

The World Organisation fro Animal Health (OIE) maintains that, to date, there is no evidence that animals, including pets, are playing a role in the spread of COVID-19. Coronaviruses from cats and dogs cannot infect people and are not related to the current corvid-19 outbreak.

Pets have other types of coronaviruses that can make them sick, like canine and feline coronaviruses. These other coronaviruses cannot infect people and are not related to the current COVID-19 outbreak, said the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States.

The WSAVA One Health and Scientific Advisory Committees, which represents more than 200,000 veterinarians worldwide, and the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS), which is Singapore’s first responder for all animal related matters; all emphasize that pet owners sick with COVID-19 should avoid direct contact with animals in their household, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If pet owners need to care for their pet or be around animals while they are sick, they should wash their hands before and after they interact with the pets and wear a facemask.

In Singapore, an advisory to quarantine pets of patients has not happened yet, said the health authorities.

What precautions should pet owners take? Here are top advices put together by AVS and CDC:

Q What should I do if my pets get sick and I think it’s COVID-19?

CDC Although we know certain bacteria and fungi can be carried on fur and hair, there is no evidence that viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread to people from the skin, fur, or hair of pets.

However, because animals can sometimes carry other germs that can make people sick, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals, including washing hands before and after interacting with them.

Q Can animals carry the virus that cause COVID-19 on their skin or fur?

CDC There is a small number of animals around the world reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after having contact with a person with COVID-19.

Talk to your veterinarian about any health concerns you have about your pets.

If your pet gets sick after contact with a person with COVID-19do not take your pet to the veterinary clinic yourself. Call your veterinarian and let them know the pet was around a person with COVID-19. Some veterinarians may offer telemedicine consultations or other plans for seeing sick pets. Your veterinarian can evaluate your pet and determine the next steps for your pet’s treatment and care.

Q What should pet owners observe?

AVS Pet owners should continue to care for their pets while adopting good hygiene practices. There is also no need to restrict the movement of pets. If pets are observed to be unwell, owners should call their veterinary clinics first before bringing them for veterinary treatment.

Owning a pet is a lifelong commitment and owners must be responsible and provide care for the animals. AVS does not condone pet abandonment and will look into all feedback on animal welfare/cruelty, including pet abandonment.

Individuals who are found guilty of abandoning their pets or fail in their duty of care towards their pets, are liable to a maximum fine of $10,000 and/or a maximum jail term of 12 months for first conviction.

Q I am under a Stay Home Notice/Leave of Absence/Quarantine, can I still take care of my pet? What should I do if I am a confirmed CORVID-19 patient and am unable to take care of my pet?

AVS Pet owners should continue to care for their pet at home. It is recommended that persons that are unwell limit their contact with pets as well as other people. Good hygiene practices are encouraged when handling pets, with thorough handwashing before and after direct contact with pets, their supplies and food. If pet owners are under SHN/LOA/hospitalised or quarantined outside of their homes and are unable to care for their pet, it is recommended for them to seek help from another member of the household. It is in the best interests of the animal to be kept in a familiar environment as this would help to minimise stress on the pet. Should pets fall sick during this period, other members of the household can contact their regular vet.

If other members of the household are also unable to leave the house, they may contact NParks/AVS for assistance at 1800-476 1600.

Q I am a pet owner and am working in essential services such as healthcare. Can I arrange for a pet sitter or pet day care services to look after my pet?

AVS Services for pet leisure or recreational activities, which include pet sitting and pet day care services, are not applicable for exemption and should be suspended. While we understand the concerns of those who will be affected by the suspension of these services, pet owners are strongly encouraged to make alternative pet care arrangements by seeking help from other members of the household during this period.

Animals can sometimes carry germs that make people sick so wash your hands after interacting with pets.

pet owners should not have direct contact with their pets if they are sick and wear a facemask when interacting with them

A rule of thumb, social distancing applies to pets too. However, putting on a facemask for your dog or cat may be harmful than useful. Instead be mindful of these safety measures which ensures your pet cat or dog stay safe.

DO DON'T

Wear a facemask when interacting with pets

Pet, snuggle and cuddle with pets

Wash hands before and after interaction with pets

Share kisses and licks with pets

When out for walks, keep a 2-metre distance from other pets and people

Share food
Wipe your pets’ paws after they have been out of the house
Let your dog or cat play with other pets and people during walks or out of the house

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