Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for animal owners
22 June 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19) has not been reported in domestic animals or wildlife in Australia.
There is currently no evidence that pets play a role in the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) to humans. However, there are still things animal owners can do to care for themselves and their animals.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illness in animals or humans. Only some of these can be transmitted from animals to humans.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new type of coronavirus that causes an infection in people, including a severe respiratory illness.
Cats, dogs and ferrets can contract coronavirus (COVID-19) if they have significant exposure to infected humans. Cats and ferrets may even become ill, but this is a very rare event.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads between people through close contact with an infected individual; mostly face-to-face or within a household.
Advice for animal owners
You should continue to follow general good hygiene and biosecurity practices before and after handling animals, their food or equipment, or after washing food/water bowls.
- Wash hands often with soap and running water, for at least 20 seconds. Dry with paper towel or hand dryer. Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.
Have a plan about how your animals will be cared for if you cannot look after them, and make sure the person you will be trusting with caring for your animals is willing to take on this responsibility.
Ensure you have sufficient food, litter or any medications your animals may need, just in case you need to self-isolate for a few weeks.
If, as a pet owner, you are isolated to your home and have a secure backyard, this can be used for fresh air and sunshine as well as a place for pets to explore and stretch their legs.
If you are unable to go outdoors, you should consider some dedicated indoor play time with your pets. Provide toys and games for mental enrichment. Games could include fetch, hide the treat and teaching pets new tricks.
If you are feeling unwell for any reason, it is a good idea to avoid close contact such as hugging, face-to-face contact, sharing food or sleeping with your pets.
If you are diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19)
If you are diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) you must follow the direction of health authorities.
If you’ve been directed to self-isolate, you must not leave your home.
It is not appropriate for a farmer or anyone responsible for animals to be driving between locations or leaving the house to undertake farm work or care for animals if he or she is confirmed as positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), or is awaiting test results.
If you are sick with coronavirus (COVID-19) you should minimise contact with animals and where possible you should arrange for someone else to mind your pets and care for livestock.
We advise anyone with coronavirus (COVID-19) to contact their veterinarian to discuss options, including a call-out, in the event that pets or livestock need medical attention.
Check the DHHS website for current human health information: dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.