Sales of face masks for dogs, bought with the hope they will protect canines from the coronavirus outbreak, have skyrocketed since the deadly disease was first reported in Wuhan last month.
While it’s fairly common to see citizens walking around in face masks to safeguard from the potentially deadly virus that has rocked the globe, it's far less common to see more dogs wearing masks of their own.
Beijing-based seller Zhou Tianxiao said he’s now selling 10 times the number of special masks for dogs than before the outbreak. He’s been selling on the Chinese e-commerce site Taobao since 2018, according to the Daily Mail. Originally, the masks were meant to protect pups from air pollution.
“Most [dogs] have started to wear [masks]. Because there is this virus, people pay more attention to their health and their pets' health,” Tianxiao said. “[The dog masks] might not be as professional as the medical masks made for humans, but they are functional.
“Their main purposes are to block out smog, stop dogs from eating or licking food on the floor and prevent them from being exposed to the virus,” he added.
“Dogs may not be willing to put on the protective devices at the beginning, but compared to risking their lives, prevention is priority,” he said.
There have not been any reported cases of animals contacting the coronavirus, which was declared a global health emergency on Thursday by the World Health Organization. However, a member of China’s National Health Commission cautioned pet owners to be vigilant.
"If pets go out and have contact with an infected person, they have the chance to get infected. By then, pets need to be isolated. In addition to people, we should be careful with other mammals especially pets," said epidemiologist Li Lanjuan, according to China Daily.
The World Health Organization said there is no evidence coronavirus has “any impact on the health of animals and no particular event has been reported in any species.”
As a “general precaution,” the organization recommends that anyone interacting with animals should “practice general hygiene measures, including regular handwashing with soap and potable water after touching animals and animal products.”