Dr. Melissa Meehan explained that forcing animals to wear masks can cause them unnecessary stress and anxiety
To help curb the spread of COVID-19, people have been instructed to follow social distancing measures, including wearing a mask especially when they are out in public. While most are diligently following these preventive measures, some have obstinately refused to wear masks claiming they don't work. Hoping to encourage this group of the public, many have taken to social media to spread awareness about the effectiveness and importance of wearing a mask. People can be seen posing with masks covering their faces and posting directions on how to use them effectively on their social media.
However, a few have taken this "awareness campaign" to a whole other level by clicking pictures of their pets donning one as well. Worried veterinarians have now issued a warning against this practice after several posts of cats and dogs wearing a mask emerged on Instagram.
A vet based in Melbourne, Australia, Dr. Melissa Meehan, explained that forcing animals to wear masks can cause them unnecessary stress and anxiety, according to Yahoo News. In worst-case scenarios, the dogs and cats could even die due to their anguish. "As a vet, I am constantly treating dogs and cats that suffer from stress and anxiety, which impacts on their health and mental wellbeing and also causing behavioral issues," said Dr. Meehan. She also added that masks could impair the breathing of animals, which "can increase their stress levels and could even be fatal, especially for brachycephalic breeds who already have difficulty breathing."
According to The Sun, a few owners have resorted to this over fears of their beloved pets contracting the deadly virus. It comes after a few animals tested positive for the virus. Recently, a cat became the first animal in the UK to be diagnosed with COVID-19. In April, a tiger residing at Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo in New York tested positive for the coronavirus. Two dogs in Hong Kong were also infected with the virus in a likely case of human-to-animal transmission. However, a spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department in the US said that there was no evidence that these pets could transmit the virus to humans. Christine Middlemiss, UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, regarded this as a "very rare event" and explained the "infected animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs" and that they were "recovering within a few days."
The first known infection in an animal in the U.S.https://t.co/FeqLs6fqHA— 9GAG (@9GAG) April 6, 2020
The World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) revealed that more studies are currently being carried out to measure "the susceptibility of different animal species to the virus and to assess infection dynamics in susceptible animal species."
The experts also laid stress on the fact that there is "no evidence to suggest that animals infected by humans are playing a role in the spread of COVID-19."
Dog tests positive for coronavirus and quarantined in Hong Kong but experts say don't panic as canines can't carry bug.— Mr SelfdestructUK🏴 (@MrSelfdestructU) February 29, 2020
While in China they were told to cull pets https://t.co/J5LkD3fO8R
Although there is no evidence that suggests animals can "transmit the disease to humans" or that they experience critical symptoms if they contract it, many have been using a mask to cover their mouth using these masks. This includes the premier for the Australian state of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, who was recently criticized for sharing the picture of a dog wearing a mask. According to The Sun, dog behaviorist and author Lara Shannon revealed that Andrews' post sent the "wrong message" even though if it was meant to a "fun photo."
"What is most concerning is the fact that the Office of Premier Daniel Andrews sent out an incorrect message by using a dog in a mask on their Facebook social media," said Shannon. "I understand the importance of getting the message of wearing a mask out to the community and how to do so properly, however, not at the expense of pets." Finally, Shannon emphasized that putting a face mask on one's pet is "not the safe thing to do."