COVID-19 and pets update

With the re-emergence of COVID-19 in our community, we thought it worth updating you about what we know about animals and COVID-19.

There is still no evidence companion animals have a major role in spreading the disease. The pandemic continues to be driven by human-human transmission. International reports suggest the transmission of COVID-19 from mink to humans is a possibility, but this is not relevant to our NZ situation.

Across the world, the known number of infected animals is small, compared to the number of known COVID-19 human cases (more than 20 million & climbing).

So....there is no good reason to abandon, relinquish or harm animals in any way, based on fears they may spread the disease.

The NZ Government is proactively considering all information as it becomes available, with expert input from our profession and others. There is much to learn about the virus causing COVID-19 & how the disease affects animal species. With such low rates of active infection in the NZ population, the risk posed by animals is negligible.

Our precautionary advice to all animal owners is:

For animal owners with COVID-19:
- avoid prolonged contact with your animals (e.g. snuggles, kissing, hugging, letting them sleep on the bed).
- let someone else in the house care for your animals. If this isn’t possible, always use good hygiene practices (washing hands before and after interacting with animals and wearing a face mask).
- keep your animals close to home – cats indoors as much as possible & dogs exercised on your property.

For animal owners without COVID-19:
- avoid contact with unfamiliar animals if there is a COVID-19 risk in your community.
- always practice good hygiene before & after interacting with animals.

For reliable, up to date info on this issue, see the OIE’s Q&A page on animals and COVID-19.