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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and animals

Transmission of COVID-19

The current spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) is due to transmission between people.

To date, COVID-19 has not been reported in livestock, domestic animals or wildlife in Australia.

While there have been reported cases of pet dogs in Hong Kong testing positive for COVID-19, there's no evidence the virus can be transmitted from a domestic animal to a person or between domestic animals.

Further studies are needed to understand if different animals could be affected by the virus.

For more information, visit the World Organisation for Animal Health.

Animal owners should always use good hygiene practices, including washing their hands before and after touching animals, food or equipment. Producers are encouraged to implement a biosecurity plan if they don't already have one in place.

The COVID-19 outbreak in people is different to the canine enteric coronavirus that only infects dogs and was recently confirmed in greyhounds in Queensland.

Caring for welfare of your animals during COVID-19 response

After your health and the health of your family, the welfare of your animals is paramount.

As an animal owner, it's important that you provide for the welfare of your animals during COVID-19, but you need to do so in a way that adheres to advice and restrictions in place to protect human health.

Develop a plan

To ensure the welfare of your animals (whether livestock, pets, or exhibited animals) during the COVID-19 pandemic, you should develop a plan for how you will meet your animals' needs in the event that you or other people who care for your animals become sick, or restrictions make it difficult to maintain existing arrangements to support your animals. Having a plan will help you look after yourself and your animals during the COVID–19 pandemic.

You will need to review and update your plan as the situation changes.

The plan should cover:

  • basic feed and care arrangements for your animals
  • how you will be able to secure sufficient feed to get you through a possible self-isolation period
  • who will look after your animals if you become sick and can no longer care for them appropriately
  • contact details for your local veterinarian and emergency veterinary clinic
  • how to secure any medications that are required for your animals.

Work with your veterinarian if your animals require critical ongoing or long term medication. Be mindful that veterinary clinics may also be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and operating at a different level of service to normal (e.g. opening hours, services provided). Your veterinarian will be able to advise you of alternatives if they are not in a position to see or treat your animal to ensure the continuity of veterinary care.

Discuss your plan and make prior arrangements with staff, neighbours, family or friends to ensure they are aware of your plan and able to assist by caring for your animals.

If you are sick it is always best to avoid contact with animals as a general precaution.

If you are confirmed to have COVID-19 you must follow the directions given to you by health authorities. You must not breach those directions even to take your animal to a veterinarian if they are sick. If your animal becomes sick and needs help phone your veterinarian for advice.

Read the Australian Veterinary Association's information for animal owners and veterinarians.

You have a duty of care for your animals including ensuring they receive adequate feed, care and treatment. Having a plan in place to ensure the welfare of your animals may also provide you with peace of mind.

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