Coronavirus Update

Coronavirus infection DIFFERENCES in humans and pets - information and resources for veterinarians

Coronavirus infection DIFFERENCES in humans and pets - information and resources for veterinarians

In light of the evolving global epidemic of the human respiratory disease Covid-19 (caused by the virus SARS-Cov-2), and a report from Hong Kong where a pet dog belonging to a Covid-19 patient returned a positive test for the virus, veterinarians may be fielding questions from pet owners about a perceived risk of pet-to-human Covid-19 transmission posed by domestic pets. The current outbreaks of canine enteric coronavirus across Australia may also cause confusion in the community about disease risk.

It is important to note that many animal groups have species-specific coronavirus infections. Canine coronavirus is known to be circulating in the community and regularly causes outbreaks of enteric disease in specific dog groups such as greyhounds and shelters. Canine enteric coronavirus is unrelated to the human respiratory SARS-Cov-2, the cause of Covid-19 disease. Canine enteric coronavirus can be detected by PCR of faeces and does not pose a risk to human health. Vaccination is available for canine enteric coronavirus, but this vaccination is not appropriate for Covid-19 prevention.

Pet owners may be concerned about pets playing a role in SARS-Cov-2 transmission in the event of a Covid-19 outbreak in Australia. Current advice from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) states:

"The current spread of COVID-19 is a result of human to human transmission. To date, there is no evidence that companion animals can spread the disease. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare." (accessed 4/3/2020).

Veterinarians are encouraged to access up-to-date information about the Covid-19 outbreak using the below resources.

Frequently asked questions about Covid-19 and pets can be found at the Worlds Small Animal Veterinary Association's website:

Regular updates about animal health can be found at the OIE website: