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Coronavirus and your pet

There has been some confusion surrounding animals and covid-19. Here is some guidance on ways to keep you and your pet safe. In the weeks ahead we'll be updating our advice to make sure people can continue to look after their pets safely.

Can I catch corona virus from my pet?

COVID-19 is not zoonotic. It cannot be transmitted from human to animal or vice versa. 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 I get sick can I still take care of my pet?

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.

What precautions can I take?

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.

Can I catch it from wild animals?

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

What if someone I know has a pet and they have Covid-19?

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.

What if I need to take my pet to the vet for another unrelated issue?

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 I'm social distancing, can I still take my dog out for a walk?

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.

If I have been diagnosed with Covid-19 or I am showing symptoms, can I still take my dog out for a walk?

If you are showing signs of having Covid-19 then you should try and arrange for someone else to care for your dog. If this is not possible then try and keep walks to a minimum and try to find time during the day when there are fewer people around but ensure you follow hygiene guidance.

The person walking your dog should limit contact with your pet to avoid spreading the disease through contact and should adhere to strict hygiene measures.

It would compromise a dog’s welfare not to be exercised at all.

The person walking your dog should make sure they are kept on a lead and under control at all times to restrict contact with other animals and people.

Ensure their walking accessories are wiped clean regularly before and after they leave the house.

Dogs should not be let out of the house unattended, except in a secure garden.

If I'm self-isolating or have symptoms, should I let my cat outside?

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.

Can my children still play with their pets?

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.

I live on my own and have no family close by, what if I become ill how can I get help with my pets?

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




If anyone is concerned about an animal, please do not hesitate to contact our confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

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