Swiss experts say pets should be socially distancing too

Why your PETS should be socially distancing: Experts warn dogs should be kept two metres away from other canines and cats kept indoors to protect owners

  • Swiss experts said pets should keep away from each other to limit virus spread
  • New research has found that pets like cats and hamsters can catch coronavirus 
  • COVID-19 is believed to have first started in animals before infecting humans
  • There are no documented cases of people catching the virus from their pets
  • Research continues into how the virus moves between animals and humans

Health experts in Switzerland have said pets should practise social distancing just like humans to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

Recommendations from Switzerland and elsewhere include keeping dogs two metres (6.5 feet) away from each other and ensuring cats stay indoors. 

New research has found that domesticated animals including cats and hamsters can contract the virus, as can other creatures like ferrets and mink.

The Swiss animal clinic AniCura told local media that international experts supported keeping pets away from each other to minimise risks, The Local reported.  

Experts said dogs should be kept on a leash and at least two metres (6.5 feet) away from other canines to avoid risking the spread of coronavirus [File photo]

Cats should be kept indoors, according to America’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Research has found cats can contract the virus [File photo]

‘The [American] Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise pet owners to apply social distancing rules to their pets,’ said Johannes Kaufmann, a veterinarian from the clinic.

He added that there was a risk the virus could live for a long time on pet’s fur on in their ‘nasal secretions.’

The CDC recommends people ‘treat pets like other family members’ until more is known about the effects of coronavirus on animals.

It says cats should be kept inside while dogs should stay at least two metres (6.5 feet) away from other dogs.   

Some diseases can be transmitted from animals to humans, including the coronavirus, which is thought to have ‘jumped’ from animals to humans through an infected animal – possibly a pangolin.

Pangolin are one of the creatures suspected of first transmitting coronavirus to humans. The endangered animals are trafficked illegally in many countries, particularly in Asia [File photo]

Both SARS and MERS have are also thought to have started in animals. Their origins have been linked to civet cats and camels respectively. 

Volker Thiel, a virologist from the University of Bern in Switzerland agrees with AniCura’s recommendations, which include keeping pets on a short leash. 

‘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,’ he said.

There is no documented evidence of humans catching coronavirus from their pets, however a number of animals including big cats in zoos and mink have tested positive for the virus. 

Last week, Denmark began culling its mink population – some 17million animals – after numerous outbreaks of coronavirus were confirmed among mink in fur farms. 

Swiss newspaper 20 Minutes reported that the country’s Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) is in the process of carrying out research into animal infection risks to humans. 

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