Coronavirus FAQS for pet owners

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 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.

If you are showing signs of having Covid-19 then you should try and arrange for someone else to walk your dog. If this is not possible then we would advise you do not take your dog out to minimise the chances of spreading the virus.

If you find someone to walk your dog, that person 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 for a long period of time, so please try and find someone to help out. You should still let your dog out for the toilet and if you have a secure garden, let them exercise around that.

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.

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.