Pets should maintain social distancing rules to avoid Covid spreading, says animal expert

Pet dogs and cats should maintain social distancing rules to stop coronavirus spreading amongst their owners.

Experts have said dogs from different households should stay two metres apart from one another, and cats should stay indoors.

It means that the virus will not pass it on “to humans or other pets.”

The advice follows research which shows that cats, hamsters, rabbits and ferrets can become infected with Covid-19, the Daily Star reports.

Scientists have found infected cats can pass the virus to other felines through “airborne transmission”, while dogs have tested positive for the disease.

The virus is thought to have first emerged in animals – possibly a pangolin – although there have been no documented cases of pets infecting humans.

Animal experts are now urging people to keep their pets away from others, the Local reported.

Volker Thiel, a virologist from the University of Bern, said: “In principle, social distancing is just as useful for pets as it is for humans, to ensure that pets cannot transmit the virus to humans or other pets.”

Johannes Kaufmann, a vet from the Swiss animal clinic network Anicura, said there is a risk Covid could live for a long time on their “fur or nasal secretions”.

He cited advice by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which urges people to “apply social distancing rules to their pets”.

The CDC says humans should “treat pets like other family members, who protect you from possible infection, until we know more about the effects of the virus on animals”.

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It recommends cats should stay inside while dogs should keep two metres back from other mutts.

Switzerland’s Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office is currently looking at animal infection risks to humans.

Despite the social distancing advice, animal experts have urged people not to put face masks on their cats and dogs, which can kill them.

Dr Melissa Meehan, a vet from Melbourne, Australia, previously said: “Putting a mask on a dog or cat can absolutely cause distress.”