Cuddling your pet dog or cat could give you coronavirus, Government scientists warn amid fears animals may carry the virus on their fur
- Official report from UK’s top vet said pets could carry the virus on their fur
- The report said close contact, like cuddling, with your pet could spread the virus
- This means that a pet could transfer the virus from one person to another person
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Cuddling your pet dog or cat could give you coronavirus, Government scientists have warned.
An official report by the UK’s top vet said household pets may carry the virus on their fur, which risks spreading the disease from person to person.
It said: ‘Close contact such as cuddling, grooming, feeding and allowing animals to share food could all allow the transfer of virus.’
This means that if one member of a household has the virus, the pet could then pass it on to another family member.
An official report by the UK’s top vet said household pets may carry the virus on their fur, which risks spreading the disease from person to person. Pictured: Stock photo of a woman stroking her pet cat
The document, prepared by the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, was considered on April 30 at a meeting of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).
The report warned that the virus could survive on pet fur, meaning ‘there is a plausible pathway that the animal may act as a fomite [infectious object] for at least a few hours and transfer virus to others in the household.’
The document said that dogs and cats who have been in contact with a coronavirus patient pose a ‘high risk’ for people with underlying conditions such as cancer of diabetes.
It advised pet owners who have symptoms to prevent their dog or cat from coming into contact with ‘susceptible humans’.
It said: ‘We consider the overall risk of such an animal being present in the household to be high, where there are people with underlying health problems or poor immune systems, but otherwise would be medium.
‘Any risk management procedures when considering the presence of a pet companion animal in the household should ensure that the companion animal remains controlled to prevent contact with susceptible humans, particularly taking account of underlying health problems, such as diabetes, heart conditions, respiratory conditions, cancer or anyone with a poor immune system.’
The report warned that the virus could survive on pet fur, meaning ‘there is a plausible pathway that the animal may act as a fomite [infectious object] for at least a few hours and transfer virus to others in the household.’ Pictured: Stock photo of a man cuddling his pet dog
However Professor James Wood, Head of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge, yesterday insisted it was ‘very unlikely’ that owners could get coronavirus from their pets.
He said: ‘There is no reason for vulnerable people to stop cuddling their dog or cat. Everyone should maintain good hygienic standards with their pets and wash their hands across the day, as is generally advised, to avoid the risks of them contaminating themselves.’
Professor Wood added that the risk to animals was low: ‘Despite millions of people having had COVID19, the numbers of pets found to be ill or infected is still tiny. Put simply, our pet dogs and cats can catch COVID19 from us, when they are living with us, but only do on very rare occasions.’
The SAGE document referred to cases of pets testing positive for coronavirus, but said there was a low risk of infected pets passing it on to humans.
It said two dogs, a 17 year old Pomeranian and a German Shepherd living Hong Kong, repeatedly tested positive for coronavirus, adding that a cat from Belgium had also tested positive.