Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs for animal carers

There is currently no evidence that pets play a role in the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) to humans. It has not been reported in domestic animals or wildlife in Australia.

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. There is evidence from the Netherlands and Denmark that farmed minks can also contract coronavirus and are able to transmit it to humans.

Providing care for animals

Animal owners have an obligation to ensure that their pets or livestock are properly cared for at all times. Owners must ensure animals are provided with proper and sufficient food, water, shelter, and veterinary treatment when necessary.

You should continue to follow good hygiene before and after handling animals, their food or equipment, or after washing food and water bowls. You should:

  1. Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, using soap and water or use a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol. Dry with paper towel or hand dryer. Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 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.

Plan ahead

Ensure you have sufficient food, litter or any medications your animals may need, just in case you need to self-isolate.

Have a plan for 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.

If you are diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19)

If you are diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) you must follow the directions given to you by health authorities. If you have been directed to self-isolate, you must not leave your home.

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. You should contact their veterinarian to discuss options, including a call-out, if pets, livestock or wildlife need veterinary attention.

Frequently asked questions

Can I take my animal to the vet?

Yes, you can take an animal to the vet. You must wear a face mask when indoors.

If you are unwell, or are in quarantine or isolation, contact your veterinary practitioner by phone for advice on what to do to ensure your animal gets the care it needs. You must not leave home if you are unwell, or in quarantine or isolation.

I’m picking up a new pet – how can I keep myself safe?

When you are picking up a pet, you should keep at least 1.5 metres between yourself and others. Practise good hygiene, including washing your hands regularly.

If the pet is located interstate, you will need to check the rules for travel from Victoria, including any permits required or quarantine requirements.

If you are unwell, or are in quarantine or isolation, you must not leave home.

Can I look for my lost pet at the council animal shelter or pound?

If you have lost a pet, first call your council to check if it is in the pound. If your pet is there, follow their instructions to arrange for its return.

Can I take or surrender a pet to a council animal shelter or pound?

Yes, under the Domestic Animals Act 1994, council animal shelters and pounds must accept surrendered animals.

If you have found a lost pet or need to surrender a pet, first call your council and follow their instructions.

Can pet training or obedience schools resume?

You can attend an outdoor pet training lesson with up to 100 people, plus the teacher.

You can attend an indoor pet training lesson with the two square metre rule if electronic record keeping is being used, otherwise the four square metre rule applies. Smaller spaces can have a smaller number of people.

You must wear a face mask when indoors. When outdoors a face mask is recommended if you cannot maintain 1.5 metres distance from other people (unless you normally live with them).

If you are operating an outdoor class, you may need a permit from your local council. You can find your local council using Know Your Council.

Can pet rescue, rehoming groups and community foster care networks continue to operate?

Yes, pet rescue, rehoming groups and community foster care networks can continue to operate with some limitations. Pets can still be transported to and from a place of care, including to a foster carer. Prospective home inspections or meet and greets are allowed. People who visit for work are not counted within the once a day visitor limit.

Can I leave home to care for animals located on property other than my place of residence?

Yes. There are no longer any limits on travel within Victoria.

You should wash and sanitise your hands before and after handling animals and their equipment, bedding or food.

Are pet breeder services allowed to deliver?

Yes. Pets can be delivered to their new home.

You should discuss the requirements for the new pet via video or phone prior to the delivery. Always maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres between yourself and other people when delivering a pet and, if indoors, you must wear a face mask.

Can my animal get sick from coronavirus (COVID-19)?

There is currently no evidence that animals have transmitted coronavirus (COVID-19) to humans in Australia.

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. There is evidence from the Netherlands and Denmark that farmed minks can also contract coronavirus and are able to transmit it to humans.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has not been reported in domestic animals or wildlife in Australia.

You should continue to follow good hygiene practices before and after handling animals, their food or equipment, or after washing food and water bowls.

Page last updated: 31 Dec 2020