Can my dog or cat catch coronavirus?

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Dog and catImage source, Getty Images

Can pets contract coronavirus and if so can they spread it to other animals or to humans?

What is the evidence?

Cats can catch flu from humans and some have caught the Covid-19 virus.

And this has been backed up by laboratory evidence.

There have also been isolated cases of dogs testing positive for the virus, in Hong Kong.

But none of the pets involved became seriously ill with Covid-19.

Scientists are investigating why.

But the virus may not replicate in the animals' cells in the way it does in human cells.

Can a dog or cat transmit coronavirus to people?

This is highly unlikely to happen, according to scientists and vets.

There have been no cases of pets passing the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 to humans.

And the same was true during the 2013 outbreak of Sars, a virus very closely related.

Could a pet's fur become contaminated if an infected person has previously touched or stroked the animal?

University of Nottingham associate professor of veterinary virology Dr Rachael Tarlinton says: "This is theoretically possible, the same as for any other surface, like a person's hands or clothing, but we haven't actually seen this happen in any cases so far."

The usual advice applies - wash your hands well with soap and water after touching any pets or things such as leads.

And to protect each other at the moment, the RSPCA says it is best to avoid kissing your pet.

How do I keep my pet safe if I'm self-isolating?

It is worth thinking about how you would cater for your pet's needs if you have to self-isolate.

The RSPCA says dogs can be let out into your garden, if you have one, or otherwise just outside your front door to go to the toilet.

If you have a cat used to staying in your home, keep it indoors as you would with any other member of your household.

Also, regularly clean its litter tray.

If you own an outdoor cat, then try to keep your interactions with it to a minimum.

And if you are ill, restrict close contact with your pets.

What are the rules on dog-walking?

Image source, Getty Images

If you have a dog that needs walking, you can combine that with your one permitted session of outdoor exercise a day.

But remember, as you would if you were exercising on your own or with other household members, to keep at least 2m (6ft) away from other people at all times.

The government has not given advice on whether a dog should be kept on its lead but some parks, including the royal parks, are strongly advising this.

This is to make it easier to stick to social-distancing advice.