Pet owners urged to keep calm as there is no evidence that companion animals can be the source of human COVID-19 infection.

05 March 2020

Recent news reports have suggested that a dog in Hong Kong which has tested ‘weak positive’ for the COVID-19 now has low-level infection and experts unanimously conclude this constitutes human-to-animal transmission. There is however no evidence so far that it is possible for companion animals to infect their human guardians. 

A spokesperson for the Hong Kong authorities stressed in a South China Morning Post report that apart from maintaining good hygiene practices, pet owners need not be overly concerned and under no circumstances should they abandon their pets.

In the South China Morning Post article Professor David Hui Shu-cheong, a respiratory medicine expert from Chinese University, suggested it was still too early to say the dog was infected, and blood test results for antibody response were needed for ultimate confirmation. “If the blood test result is negative, it means the dog is not infected,” Hui said.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), the largest independent animal welfare charity group in the city, also stressed that being infected was not the equivalent of being infectious or capable of spreading Covid-19.

The news has caused huge concern in the community of Hong Kong and indeed in China. Animals Asia has produced a video to reassure companion animal guardians that there is no evidence that their dogs and cats increase their risk of contracting the COVID19 coronavirus and that they should not abandon them.

Our Senior Vet at the Chengdu Bear Rescue Centre Eddie Drayton said:
“We encourage you to maintain good hygiene and good standards around your home. So continue to wash your hands before eating or before touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

When you're with your animal companions continue to maintain that good hygiene. Do not cough or sneeze on them, and again wash your hands after you finish petting them. And to minimise the risk of contamination of your home, if you do take your dogs out for a walk, on returning back to the home you can wipe down their paws with some warm water and some pet shampoo. That will help to remove any potential source of virus that they may have touched if they're walking outside.

We understand of course that everyone is worried and concerned but please remember this is not a time for panic. This is a time for care, and to take the ultimate care of your companion animals and your best friends and not to abandon them at this time.”

Please remember to practice good hygiene, regularly wash your hands with soap and keep calm, don’t abandon your companion animals.