The spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19 virus) has a huge impact on everyone’s daily lives and many of you are concerned about what you can do should your pet be injured or become unwell, whether or not your pets can catch Covid-19 or how to keep your pet safe and happy during the lockdown.
This is why we have pulled together some useful information along with some tips and advice on how you can help your pet continue to be healthy over the next few weeks.
Can pets catch corona virus?
We understand that there has been a very small number of pets across the world that tested positive for Covid-19. Currently, there is no evidence that pets can get sick from Covid-19. A large veterinary laboratory, IDEXX, has tested thousands of dogs and cats and found no signs of Covid-19.
Obviously this is still a very new and fast-moving situation, and until more is known we would recommend taking precautions, such as washing your hands thoroughly after stroking, feeding or cleaning up after your pet.
Can pets spread corona virus?
The virus is most commonly passed from person to person through coughing and sneezing. There is evidence that the virus can live on surfaces for some time, depending on the type of material, temperature and other factors.
- This could include your pet’s fur, so if you are showing any symptoms it’s important to minimise contact with your pet as much as possible.
- You should also maintain good hygiene practices, such as regularly washing your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water, especially after handling or feeding your pet. It’s always sensible to avoid letting your pet lick your face.
There is no need to give up or quarantine pets and we would urge owners not to panic. Pets can be a great source of comfort, and a daily dog walk will be a good thing for everyone’s physical and mental health.
A statement of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) president Daniella Dos Santos confirms that "There have been a tiny number of cases of Covid-19 in animals and in all cases, it is likely that the transmission was human to animal. There is no evidence that pets can pass Covid-19 to their owners.". The association also urges pet owners not to panic "It is very important that people don’t panic about their pets. There is no evidence that animals can pass the disease to humans”.
Other associations such as British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), PDSA and the Government continue to reassure that there is currently no evidence of COVID-19 circulating in pets in the UK and nothing to suggest that pets might transmit the disease to humans.
What do I do if my pet needs veterinary care?
It’s best to give your vet a call to discuss your situation and see how they may be able to help. Most vets are only open for emergencies but they can still give you tailored advice on whether your pet should be seen or not. The veterinary profession is doing everything possible to ensure essential and emergency services can be maintained during this difficult time, within Government guidance.
If you are unwell and no-one else in your household is able to look after your dog, contact your friends and family or a neighbour to see if they can help. If you have been diagnosed with coronavirus then you should inform your local health protection team that you own a dog or cat. If your pet shows signs of ill-health please call your vet to discuss a course of action.
Can I take my pet out for a walk?
Yes, the latest Government guidance allows for one walk per day for each person, as long as social distance is maintained between people and dogs. If two adults live in the same home, then you could each walk your pets separately, ensuring they get two walks a day. If you live alone and your dog needs to go to the toilet then you can take them outside but make sure these trips are only for the time needed for the dog to toilet and ensure you maintain your social distance. Keep your dog on a lead around others and in public places and thoroughly wash your hands before leaving, and as soon as you get home again.
Unfortunately, critters such as fleas, ticks and worms do not comply with social distancing rules so please make sure that your flea and worming preventative treatment is up to date.
Can my cat go outdoors?
If your cat is used to staying in then try and keep them inside making sure they have access to their litter tray and that it is cleaned regularly. If your cat is used to coming and going as they please keeping them inside could be very stressful and may make them ill. We would advise minimising interactions with them and washing your hands thoroughly after contact with them or any of their items.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) president Daniella Dos Santos also states “As a precaution, for pet owners who have Covid-19 or who are self-isolating we are recommending that you keep your cat indoors if possible, during that time”.
Can I stroke other people’s pets?
There is no evidence that pets can spread the disease, however, we would advise avoiding contact with other people’s pets. Pets could act as carrier of the virus on their fur for short periods in the same way that other surfaces can carry the virus from one place to another. In line with the general advice on fighting coronavirus, you should wash your hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.
How do I look after my pet if I’m unwell or self-isolating?
If you are unwell and no-one else in your household is able to look after your dog, contact your friends and family or a neighbour to see if they can help.
There is currently no evidence to suggest that dogs can catch Covid-19, but we’d always recommend washing your hands before and after feeding, playing or petting your dog.
If you have been diagnosed with coronavirus then you should inform your local health protection team that you own a dog or cat. If your pet shows signs of ill-health please call your vet to discuss a course of action.
How do I keep my dog entertained indoors?
Although you might not be able to keep your dog as physically active while under quarantine, you can still keep your dog mentally exercised. Training goes a long way towards stimulating and exercising dogs who are stuck inside during a quarantine.
Most dogs love to play so set aside some time to have a good game of fetch or tug with your friend. Dogs who are used to a lot of physical activity can handle more physically demanding training such as physical tricks like spins, rollovers, sitting pretty or weaving between an owner’s legs.
How should I feed my pet during this crisis?
Now that you are spending more time with your pets at home, please don’t forget to keep your pet’s weight on track. It’s all too easy (and certainly fun – for our pets) to lose track by giving them more and more treats as a game, reward or just because they look so cute. We would recommend to save one of your dog’s daily meals to use as reward for training sessions.
If your pet is on a special diet, please make sure they stay on it. We would recommend ensuring you have a 14-day supply of dog food at all times and planning ahead with your food shop as you would for other essentials. If you are self-isolating and need dog food, ask a friend or neighbour to collect it for you and leave it on your doorstep.