Can your dog or cat get coronavirus? Or could you catch it from your pet?

The current advice from the World Health Organisation is that there is no evidence that pets can get infected with coronavirus.

But there have been reports of a cat in Belgium and a dog in Hong Kong being tested positive for the virus and now a research team, at Harbin Veterinary Research Institute in China, have found that cats are highly susceptible to Covid-19.

Whilst cat transmission to humans has not shown, the recent experiments concluded that felines are able to transmit the virus to their own species.

ITV News spoke to Alan Radford, a professor in Veterinary Health Informatics to get clarity on this furry subject and find out if pet owners should be concerned.

Can pets catch Covid-19?

There are two ways an animal living with an infected human could have this virus.

The first - and likely to be rare - is that the animal could actually be infected, by which we mean actually have the virus growing within them.

While experiments have shown that some animal species can be infected, the tests that are being used for the dogs in Hong Kong and the cat in Belgium don't actually prove that they were infected.

It seems far more likely that these animals have the virus on them and this is the second way that animals may have this virus.

Could a pet infect a human?

Yes that's theoretically possible. Animals living with Covid-19 patients will likely have some of this virus on their skin or coat and so that virus can be transmitted to a person if they handle the animal.

While we can carry on interacting with our own animals in a relatively normal way, we shouldn't be touching animals that belong to other people unless it's absolutely necessary.

Should you change your behaviour with your pet?

If we are well and self-isolating then we can carry on interacting with our pets normally.

If we are unwell and experiencing Covid-19 signs there are some additional precautions that we can sensibly take.

If there is someone else in the house who is otherwise well then it makes sense to ask them to take over day-to-day care.

If hand contact is necessary then we should wash our hands before and after contacting pets and we should avoid face-to-face contact.

If we've got cats, you should consider keeping them indoors during the period of self-isolation.

If we've got dogs that need walking, government advice says we are allowed to go out still even if you have Covid-19 signs but we have to pay strict attention to the rules around social distancing.

The reports of human to pet transmission seem to be isolated incidents and many health organisations have said there is no evidence that pets can spread the virus in the same way as humans.

Most people who will become infected from Covid-19 will be infected by people and not animals - which is why social distancing as well as hand washing are so important in fighting the spread of the virus.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know