China has explicitly excluded dogs from a draft list of livestock allowed to be farmed for consumption, citing "progress of human civilization" and "public concern and preference for animal protection."

Although dog meat is still consumed by some Chinese people in certain regions, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said they have excluded them from the draft list because "dogs have evolved from traditional livestock to companion animals."

According to the Humane Society International, which welcomed the move, more than 90.49 million dogs and cats are kept as pets in China compared to an estimated 10 million dogs killed annually in the meat trade.

The list, published on Wednesday, mentions 31 species and breeds including pigs, cows, chickens, rabbits and camels as well as "special livestock" such as reindeers and ostriches which are either allowed to be raised for consumption or for other means such as fur.

The public will have until May 8 to provide feedback.

The newly proposed regulation is part of a wider crackdown on wildlife consumption after the current COVID-19 epidemic was traced to a seafood market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan that also traded in wild animals, including bats and snakes.

The central government already banned all "illegal" trade and eating of non-aquatic wild animals in late February.

The southern Chinese city of Shenzhen banned the production and consumption of dog and cat meat earlier this month, becoming the first mainland Chinese city to do so.