Misinformation and misguided advice to pet owners has raised questions and concerns. Picture: Reuters
Misinformation and misguided advice to pet owners has raised questions and concerns. Picture: Reuters

Covid-19 and your pets: What you need to know

By Dr Matthew Robertson Time of article published Apr 2, 2020

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South Africans are currently still grappling with the effects of the national lockdown, enforced to contain the local spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

While this remains a challenging time for all of us, one comfort, found in our homes, is our furry family and the ability to spend time with our pets during this difficult time. The special pets in our lives are a source of comfort and support, and are sure to be happy to have their ‘people’ home with them all day.

However, one constant challenge, affecting even our pets, remains the spread of misinformation on social media around coronavirus and pets. Misinformation and misguided advice to pet owners has raised questions and concerns about how to safely interact with pets and whether pets expose owners to additional risks.

The team at Canine & Co have compiled some trustworthy information around animals and Covid-19, from a range of sources including the World Health Organisation (WHO), Centre for Disease Control (CDC), World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) and the national South African Government’s online Coronavirus resource and news portal.

The OIE states there is no evidence that dogs play a role in the spread of this disease or that they become sick. The CDC also seconds that opinion, stating that: “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread Covid-19.” To ensure that furry families and their owners remain healthy:

  • All family members should maintain good hygiene practices including washing their hands when interacting with their pets, their pet food or animal waste.
  • Should owners be subject to self-isolation or even hospitalisation, fur baby parents should arrange special care for any pets with a family member or with friends.
  • Just like human skin, pet fur can act as a surface for Covid-19 to adhere to, so pet parents should refrain from allowing unknown persons including delivery people, to touch, stroke or pet their fur babies as part of their Covid-19 precautionary protocol.
  • Pet-owners should contact their veterinarian if they have questions or concerns.
  • Pet-owners can and should postpone any vaccinations, an important part of protecting pets against many other diseases that can wait until the end of the National Lockdown.
  • Continue feeding your pets quality cat and dog food brands, to prevent unnecessary changes in their diet during this time pet food services such as ours remain open.

Dr Matthew Robertson is a Johannesburg based veterinarian

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