Animal owners shouldn’t kiss, snuggle or share food with their pet if they are self-isolating with Covid-19.
As tens of thousands of Kiwis stay at home as a confirmed case or a household contact, the SPCA says it’s vital that pets are looked after.
Animals can be a welcome source of comfort and companionship during self-isolation, but special care is needed to keep them safe.
In rare cases overseas, cats have contracted Covid-19, although the SPCA says there are no examples of companion animals infecting humans with the virus.
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SPCA scientific officer Alison Vaughan said there was no evidence cats or dogs could transmit the virus to people.
“There is some evidence that cats, in particular, are a bit more susceptible to being infected by the virus from humans, but in most cases this is mild symptoms or asymptotic,” she said.
“There is a low risk that you might be able to pass it on to your cat so if you are having symptoms, or you know you are positive, maybe spare them some of the kisses.
“It’s about minimizing the risk to everyone in our household, including those furry family members.”
The SPCA also advises that cats should be kept indoors while someone is self-isolating. If the animal went missing the owner could not go door to door looking for them, said Vaughan.
Despite being in isolation people can still leave their house to do mild exercise, meaning dog walking is permitted.
“It’s very important that you maintain your dog’s exercise. However, we recommend you keep a distance from other people and that you keep your dog on a leash,” she said.
“If you have a dog that wants to go and say hello to everybody you may have to burst your self-isolation bubble to go and retrieve them.”
It is unlikely that touching an animal will pass on the virus, she said.
“Now we’re mostly dealing with Omicron, surfaces have become less of a focus.
“We know from multiple studies that the virus does not remain viable on porous surfaces. It’s much more on hard surfaces, such as metal door handles, and not on fabric or dogs’ coats.”
Vaughan said many pets will be glad to have people at home.
“In addition to walks, playing is a great idea, searching for treats around the house,” she said.
“We have a lot of great DIY food puzzles on our website.”