Coronavirus FAQS for pet owners

There have been limited numbers of known incidences around the world of the virus being transmitted between humans and animals; and there have been no known cases to date in the UK where a human has been directly infected by an animal. We do, of course, review this status regularly.

If an animal is touched by someone with the virus then there is the potential it can be spread should someone else come in to contact with that animal, in the same way as touching any infected surface. We ask that you are mindful of hygiene practices at all times and especially when handling animals.

If you are displaying symptoms of Covid-19 we recommend limiting contact with your pet as you would with another member of your household. We suggest you avoid petting, snuggling, sleeping with, being licked and sharing your food with your pet. If you have an animal that doesn’t live at your address, like a horse, and you are too sick to take care of them, we would suggest asking someone you know to take care of them.

Always adopt good hygiene practices and thoroughly wash your hands after interacting with your small animals such as rabbits, rodents, birds and reptiles. It might be an idea to have one designated person in the household interacting with these pets.

We suggest you avoid petting, snuggling, sleeping with, being licked and sharing your food with your pet and to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before and after you come in to contact with them.

Please make sure you have plenty of food and other essential items such as cat litter or bedding for your animal in case you do need to self-isolate.

As wild animals generally do not have contact with humans, there is very little risk of catching Covid-19 from a wild animal.

If someone you know is displaying symptoms, then we would recommend they limit contact with their pet. If they are too unwell to care for their animal we would suggest exploring the option of having someone else take care of them during this time.

You can still walk and exercise your dog as the Government guidelines allow for one walk a day. Please keep your dog on a lead at all times and under total control, sticking to the Government’s advice in avoiding close contact with other people at all times. Do not let anyone else touch your pet to avoid risk of contamination. If there is more than one person in your household and none of you are unwell or self-isolating, go for walks separately and take your dog out when each of you go for your walk.

If your dog needs the toilet at other times throughout the day, let the dog out into the garden but ensure they are supervised at all times. If you don’t have a garden, take your dog out as close to your home as possible, allow it to go to the toilet, and then return to your home immediately. Again, keep your dog on a lead to do this and maintain appropriate distance.

Find other ways to entertain and stimulate your dog while in the house by playing new games or teaching them new tricks.

Unless you are displaying Covid-19 symptoms, you can still walk and exercise your dog as the Government guidelines allow for one walk a day. Please keep your dog on a lead at all times and under total control, sticking to the Government’s advice in avoiding close contact with other people at all times. Do not let anyone else touch your pet to avoid risk of contamination. If there is more than one person in your household and none of you are unwell or self-isolating, go for walks separately and take your dog out when each of you go for your walk.

If your dog needs the toilet at other times throughout the day, let the dog out into the garden but ensure they are supervised at all times. If you don’t have a garden, take your dog out as close to your home as possible, allow it to go to the toilet, and then return to your home immediately. Again, keep your dog on a lead to do this and maintain appropriate distance.

If you are showing Covid-19 symptoms, you should, where possible, find someone else to walk your dog for you.

We are urging people to keep their dogs on leads as we’ve also seen an increase in reports of dogs disturbing wildlife and livestock. This has included entering horse fields, chasing livestock, lifting fox cubs and fatally injuring deer. If your dog is not getting as much exercise as normal, it may be harder to control them when you are out. Please err on the side of caution and don’t put wildlife at risk.

Find other ways to entertain and stimulate your dog while in the house by playing new games or teaching them new tricks.

If you are self-isolating then you should not come in to contact with anyone in that time. If your pet needs to visit the vet, then contact your vet in the first instance via phone for advice and  arrange for someone else to take your animal to them if needed, ensuring that hands are washed before and after contact and other hygiene measures are in place.

If your cat is an indoor cat we suggest asking a neighbour or relative, whose house your cat is familiar with, to care for your pet. Make sure they limit touching to avoid spreading the disease through contact. Allowing your cat to be cared for in an unfamiliar house could be too stressful so we wouldn’t recommend this.

If you have an outdoor cat then don’t try and restrict their access to outside but if possible restrict access to the garden only, often cats don’t venture far.

If you know that your cat is used to making long trips and visiting other people’s homes, we suggest you try and restrict your cat doing this as much as possible. We would suggest purchasing a litter tray to encourage your cat to toilet inside. If it’s not possible, limit contact with your cat when it returns home and wash all accessories regularly with detergent.

If someone in your house is not sick, they should be the primary caregiver.

Strict hygiene measures should be adhered to and ensure hands are washed before and after any contact. All bowls and accessories should be cleaned thoroughly and regularly with detergent.

Don’t do anything that is going to cause your cat undue stress.

We suggest children avoid petting, snuggling, sleeping with, being licked and sharing their food with their pet and to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds before and after they come in to contact with them.

If you are too unwell to care for your pet and do not have anyone near-by who can help, please phone our animal helpline on 03000 999 999 for further advice and support. We are here to help you.

Attending to your horses to feed and water them is essential and you should do that. It is vital you continue to meet their welfare needs. If you are on a livery with horses owned by other people, you should try and share responsibility to minimise the number of trips and people heading to the site.

As a precaution, we recommend you make arrangements for a friend, relative or other horse owner to attend to your horses in case you begin to display symptoms or have to self-isolate. 

Given present guidance, we do not think it’s appropriate to take your horse out for a ride. Be mindful of the potential impact taking a horse out could have on those around you, especially if there is an accident with the pressure currently on our emergency services.

Whilst use of boarding facilities and commercial dog day care facilities will have fallen due to the pandemic, there is still a need for them. They can provide support and care for the animals of key workers and shielded or vulnerable people who may be unable to make safe alternate arrangements for their pet.

Any handover of pets should take place in a space where social distancing between the pet owner and member of staff can be maintained. Remember, an animal’s fur could hold the virus like many other surfaces, so all of the material items dropped off with the animal should be washed with soap and left to dry. This includes leads and collars. Wipe down the dog or cat using a pet-friendly cloth and dispose of it immediately.

As well as observing the steps you would take when boarding any animal during the pandemic, extra care and precautions must be taken. For 72 hours from arrival, the animal should be kept in an isolated area and away from any other animals on site. Only attend to this animal after all others have been seen to.

We’d urge any commercial day care company to give priority to key workers or shielded and vulnerable people who need help to look after their pets. Collections should be on an appointment basis and dogs should only be picked up from one house at a time. The vehicle must be disinfected between trips.

Home day care may continue to operate and priority should be given for key workers who are unable to make alternative safe arrangements for their dog.

Collection should be on an appointment basis. The boarder should wipe the dog down with a pet safe disposable damp cloth which should be disposed of properly afterwards before putting them in the vehicle and the owner should keep all equipment such as leads. Handover should take place in a room or space large enough for the client and staff to maintain their social distance.

On departure the dog should again be wiped down with a disposable pet safe cloth which should be disposed of properly afterwards. Dogs should be walked on a lead locally, maintaining social distance from other people and pets, and not transported in a vehicle to exercise.

Dog walkers can continue to operate and priority should be given for key workers, and shielded and vulnerable people who are unable to make alternative safe arrangements for their dog. Dogs from coronavirus infected households may be walked but if doing so they must be walked after dogs from all other households.

The handover should take place in a space large enough to maintain social distancing, and the owner should retain all equipment such as leads.

Only dogs from the same household should be walked together and they should be kept on a lead at all times. Dogs should be walked locally to minimise travel.

Any equipment, including the vehicle if used to transport the dog, must be cleaned and disinfected between dogs. Gloves should be worn and disposed of after each household and before returning to a vehicle. There should be minimal contact between the walker and the dog. Walkers should not touch personal items such as phones whilst walking a dog.

If paying for dog walking services, it should be done by card or bank transfer.

Groomers and their clients should consider whether the travel and human contact is necessary. We appreciate certain breeds and dogs may need groomed. Government guidelines make it clear taking a pet to be groomed is unlikely to be classed as an essential journey. However, we know there may be grounds where not being groomed can be a welfare issue. During the current restrictions, we would urge anyone to only try and get their dog groomed if not doing so will impact their welfare.

Due the risk of dog’s carrying the virus on their fur, grooming is a challenge. Where possible, we suggest groomers maintain contact with clients remotely and offering advice to them about their pet’s coat.

Grooming services present a challenge as there is a risk that the virus may be carried on the dog’s coat. Pets from households with coronavirus present higher risk given the nature of the service. In many cases, groomers may therefore consider that maintaining contact with clients remotely and offering advice to them about their pet’s coat is the safest outcome for all concerned.

Mobile groomers may continue to operate providing that they can maintain social distancing. The handover protocol set out by CFSG should be followed with the owner retaining all equipment such as leads.

Groomers whose business relies on pets coming to them can continue to work if they collect them and as long as they can disinfect their vehicle between collections. Only pets from one household should be collected at one time.

Only one dog should be on-site at one time, and the premises should be thoroughly disinfected before the next dog enters.

Social distancing should be maintained at all times and the owner should retain any equipment, such as leads. Payments should be made by card or bank transfer.

There will be litters of puppies and kittens which are ready to be rehomed. Whilst we want people to adopt rather than shop, it is important breeders and buyers follow health and safety guidelines.

We would urge people to minimise rehoming and adoption throughout the pandemic, but appreciate the need to get puppies and kittens to new homes. When rehoming, the breeder should take the pup or kitten to the buyer’s home and observe social distancing throughout the visit, which should be kept as brief as possible.

Any animal should be at least eight weeks old and the buyer should be able to view them with the mother and litter mates electronically.

Alternatively, a commercial transporter licensed for dogs may be used. Only puppies or kittens from a single litter going to the same household should be taken in each journey so that personal hygiene for the breeder or transporter can be maintained. The person moving the puppy or kitten must ensure it has comfortable and appropriate accommodation for the journey, including bedding. It may be necessary to stop and provide water during the journey too.

During the visit, gloves should be worn and discarded immediately afterwards. Wipe the puppy or kitten over with a pet-safe disposable cloth prior to handover and no equipment, such as beds or collars, should be handed over with the animal.

Doors and gates should only be opened and closed by householder. Time in the property should be kept to the absolute minimum. Paperwork and other checks and documentation should be completed ahead of meeting as far as possible.

Prior to dropping off the puppy or kitten, the purchaser should be given advice on immediate care of them. This should cover what food to purchase and how to help their new pet to settle in their new home.

Breeders who are considering mating a bitch or queen should ensure they have the facility to be able to allow potential purchasers to view the litter remotely. You should consider how the offspring can be safely delivered complying with the guidance above.

It may not be possible to vaccinate and microchip puppies or kittens in the current lockdown.

Breeders and purchasers should contact their veterinary practice for advice. Where there is a high risk of infection with severe disease such as Canine Parvovirus the practice may be able to provide suitable arrangements for vaccination. If vaccination is undertaken the pet should be microchipped at the same time if not already implanted.

Give careful consideration to whether or not it is appropriate to mate or breed during the pandemic.

Booking an appointment:

If you have rehomed a cat or dog from our Glasgow, Lanarkshire or Dunbartonshire animal rescue and rehoming centres and have contacted us to have them neutered, please be assured we are working our way through our list as quickly as possible and will be in contact with you soon. If you have not contacted us yet to arrange an appointment, then please get in touch via the number on your voucher and we will be delighted to help. If you are experiencing problems associated with your cat or dog due to them not being neutered, then please get in touch with us through the same number and we can look to see if we can bring forward the operation.

If you already have an appointment booked:

If there are local restrictions announced due to Covid 19, in the area where you live or the location of our animal rescue and rehoming centre that you have been asked to attend, we are sorry to advise that we will have to postpone your appointment until those restrictions are lifted. Where possible we will get in touch with you under these circumstances, but if you have not heard from us then please give us a call on the same number you used to book your appointment to discuss further.