Dogs should also practice physical distancing when out for walks as a precaution against Covid-19, the ISPCA has advised.
While the jury is still out on whether the deadly virus can be transmitted to dogs or cats or if they can pass the virus onto humans, the head of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) said the best advice is to err on the side of caution.
“The ISPCA strongly advise that when exercising your dog, you practice personal distancing by keeping at least two metres apart from people and also other animals.”
“You should keep your dog on a lead when around other people or dogs. It’s a good time to make use of your secure garden for lots of extra play and for toilet breaks.”
The charity also advises cat owners to keep their cats indoors if they normally stay inside as a precaution since they are prone to wandering.
While there is “a very small risk” of the virus being able to attach itself to a pet like household objects such as plastic or paper, “there is no evidence that the virus can been passed on to a person from an animal by any route but it’s good to be extra cautious,” the ISPCA advised.
“Many pet owners continue to be worried about the impact of COVID-19 on their pets. The ISPCA is continuing to monitor news from the experts and would like to reassure pet owners that there is no evidence that pets can contract COVID-19 or transmit the virus to humans. We are continuing to monitor the latest updates from the WHO,” it said.
ISPCA CEO Dr Andrew Kelly said that while it encourages pet owners to engage with their pets during the current crisis, if someone in the household does have the virus they should refrain from having direct physical contact with their pet, such as allowing a dog or cat to lick them. He also advised pet owners who have the virus from sharing their own food with their pets.
“If pet owners do become infected, it is advisable to have another member of the household care for your pets. As a precautionary measure, keep your pets indoors if possible for 14 days and continue to maintain good hygiene practices. If you are concerned, please phone your vet”, he said.
“We are urging people to enjoy the companionship we share with our pets during this difficult time. It is important that pet owners continue to maintain good hygiene practices and always wash their hands after interacting with their pets,” he said.