Pet owners are being urged not to put face masks on their cats and dogs to protect them from coronavirus as they could kill them.
Animal experts have issued the stark waring in response to a disturbing trend that has seen worried owners using the masks believing it will stop their pets from contracting the killer virus.
However according to Dr Melissa Meehan, a vet based in Melbourne, Australia, it can cause stress and anxiety for cats and dogs and in the worst scenario they could die.
She told Yahoo News : “As a vet I am constantly treating dogs and cats that suffer from stress and anxiety, which impacts on their health and mental wellbeing and also causing behavioural issues.
“Putting a mask on a dog or cat can absolutely cause distress.”
Dr Meehan added that a mask will also impairs an animal’s breathing which “can increase their stress levels and could even be fatal, especially for brachycephalic breeds who already have difficulty breathing”.
Daniel Andrews, the Premier of the Australian state of Victoria, has been among those who have posted images of the pets wearing a face mask.
The politician shared a photo of his golden retriever called Ted, who is a peer support dog for Ambulance Victoria, saying he was “a great mask model too”.
Dog behaviourist and author Lara Shannon said she was ‘disappointed’ by his actions.
Ms Shannon said she was concerned members of the public might assume their pet needed a face mask if they saw the messages online particularly if it is from reputable sources.
“I understand the importance of getting the message of wearing a mask out to the community and how to do so properly, however, not at the expense of pets.,” she said.