AVA President Dr Julia Crawford has released a video message today, regardingthe implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for Australian pet owners andveterinarians.

Dr Crawford has provided much needed up to date information, guidance andabove all assurance in what is a rapidly evolving situation.

Dr Crawford stated all current evidence supports the fact that the spread ofCOVID-19 in the human population is due to close human to human contact andthat there is no evidence that pets are capable of spreading the disease tohumans. The reported case of the 17-year-old Pomeranian dog in Hong Kong thathad initially been suspected of contracting the virus after contact with aninfected human, has since been shown, by follow up testing, to not have anymeasurable antibodies to the virus.

As yet, it is unclear whether the dog was truly infected or not. Dr Crawfordappealed to all pet owners to not do anything rash that would compromise thewelfare of their pet during the current situation.

On Thursday 18 March 2020, sadly it was reported that the aged Pomeranian haddied 2 days after returning home. There are no reports that the dog was unwellat any time during its stay, or on release. The Hong Kong governmentdepartment has stressed there is currently no evidence that pet animals can bea source of infection or that they can become sick from this virus.

A second dog in Hong Kong which was also in close contact with an infectedowner has since tested positive to the genetic material from the virus. Likethe first dog, this dog has not displayed any clinical signs consistent withinfection. There continues to be no evidence of transmission from dogs tohumans, or from dogs to other dogs. The main risk of infection remains humanto human contact.

Dr Crawford’s advice for Australian pet owners who find themselves quarantinedwith their pets was that, so long as they minimise close contact with theirpet and practice good hand hygiene before and after handling their pets, therewas no risk to human or pet from being in contact during this period.

Dr Crawford also gave quarantined pet owners guidance around how to safelyaccess veterinary care for their animal whilst they were in quarantine. Shestressed the absolute need for pet owners to make phone contact with theirveterinarian before they do anything, to enable veterinarians to makeappropriate and safe arrangements for examining and treating sick animals.

Quarantined pet owners who break quarantine to attend a veterinary clinicseriously risk compromising the health and welfare of veterinary clinic staffand anyone else they come into close contact with.

Dr Crawford explained that recent reported cases of Coronavirus infection ingreyhounds and cats were most definitely not due to the COVID-19 strain ofvirus and that these infections had been seen and well managed by vets formany years. She once again reiterated that these diseases of animals aretotally unrelated to the COVID-19 situation and pose no discernible risk tohuman health.

In closing Dr Crawford emphasised the importance of pet owners following goodhygiene procedures around hand washing and the need to follow all instructionsfrom public health officials. Dr Crawford’s final message to the public wasthat the Australian Veterinary Association and its members are fully committedto keeping pet welfare a top priority during the rapidly evolving COVID-19outbreak.

Key points:

  • There have been two dogs in Hong Kong who have tested positive to COVID-19
  • This was due to close contact with their owners who had COVID-19.
  • Neither of these dogs showed any sign of illness
  • There is no evidence that dogs play any role in human infection
  • If you are in quarantine, please keep your pet with you. However, minimise close contact and please wash your hands before and after handling your pet or its food and water bowls.
  • If you are in quarantine and your pet becomes unwell, please contact your veterinarian by phone. DO NOT attend the clinic without ringing first.
  • Please do not do anything to compromise your pet’s welfare. Your veterinarian can talk to you on the phone about any concerns you may have.

Message from AVA President on COVID-19 & pets – AVA

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