Advice for pet owners

On this page you will find the current UK status for COVID-19 & Pets, Government advice for pet owners, and general advice and resources for pet owners including advice on behavioural changes in your pet, and looking after your puppy/kitten. You will also find advice for breeders and animal related businesses. 

Some government guidance and information may vary in different parts of the UK therefore please check country advice for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and also, for any local variations within each country. Our Covid-19 homepage has further information on transitioning plans intended to ease the lockdown restrictions specific to each country.

Updated as of July 2021.

Current UK status for COVID-19 & pets

Currently, the advice from governments across the UK is that there is limited evidence to suggest that companion animals can contract COVID-19 and if they do, they tend to show only mild symptoms and recover within a few days. The evidence available at present suggests that coronavirus:

  • May pass from infected humans to certain pets such as cats and ferrets following close contact
  • Does not easily pass between cats or most other pets, but this cannot be ruled out
  • May pass between ferrets and humans based on the evidence from mink infections

Government advice for pet owners

In line with public health guidance, Government advice is that you wash your hands before and after any contact with your pet, its food and bedding and that you do not share food with your pet.

It is recommended that those who have COVID-19, or are displaying symptoms, should restrict contact with pets and wash their hands thoroughly before and after interacting with their pet and avoid contact such as kissing or cuddling if you are self-isolating

Pets could act as a fomite (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. However, there is no evidence that you need to wash your pets to control the spread of coronavirus.

Government advice for pet owners across the UK is available as follows:

England: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-people-with-animals

Scotland: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-animal-owners/pages/overview/

Wales: https://gov.wales/advice-pet-owners-coronavirus-covid-19

Northern Ireland: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-animal-owners#toc-0

Ferrets

Ferrets are known to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19. If you own a ferret, as a precautionary measure government advice is that you isolate your ferret for 21 days if:

  • You or your household are self-isolating
  • You have brought your ferret to England or Scotland from a country not on the travel corridor list or, for Wales that you have recently returned with your pet through the Pet Travel Scheme

Isolation means avoiding contact with either ferrets or people from other households. Although it is advised that your ferret isolates for 21 days you only need to isolate for the required 14 days (Dec 2020).

During the isolation period you should ensure the ferret remains within the confines of the household and specifically for Scotland, is kept indoors. You should avoid using it as a working animal, rabbiting, or taking it for walks. If your ferret needs emergency veterinary care, you can arrange to have it taken to the vet but you should notify staff of the situation before visiting the practice.

Advice specific to Scotland and Northern Ireland is that if you have COVID-19 you should wear a facemask and gloves when handling your ferret.

Government advice on ferrets specific to each country in the UK is available as follows:

England: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-people-with-animals#animals-with-coronavirus

Wales: https://gov.wales/advice-pet-owners-coronavirus-covid-19#section-57160

Scotland: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-animal-owners/pages/self-isolating-households/

Northern Ireland: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-animal-owners#toc-3

 

Pet Health

World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) - Our global Association’s guidelines are here 

Please note: as the situation will vary depending on each country’s situation, not all information will be applicable to the UK

Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) – find updates and resources from FVE here 

Federation of Companion Animal Veterinary Associations (FECVA) - BSAVA's European Association’s guidelines for practices are here and for clients here 

Please note: these are general European guidelines and again, not all information will be applicable to the UK situation.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) - AVMA have general resources alongside those specific to their region available here.

Canine and Feline Sector Group (CFSG) - General information from CFSG can be found hereSee COVID-19 resources on top tips about how to look after your pet during the COVID-19 here, and here.

Advice and resources for pet owners

BSAVA Advice to clients

BSAVA has produced advice for clients as to whether or not your pet can be vaccinated or neutered during the COVID-19 crisis. It outlines what to expect when you contact your vet to discuss vaccination or neutering for your pet. Your vet is required to risk-assess each case and apply their professional and clinical judgement when deciding on the best course of action for you and your pet’s individual circumstances whilst keeping in mind government requirements relating to travel and social distancing. Please see vaccination advice here and neutering advice here.

General advice on caring for your puppy, kitten or rabbit is available from BSAVA Petsavers Guides here.

Pet Behaviour

The BSAVA and BVBA have put together a Q&A for pet owners to help them prepare their pets for return to normal life as lockdown eases. The Q&A explains some key behavioural issues that might be encountered by owners and how these can be prevented and managed. Topics include separation-related issues, animals becoming anxious as the world around them becomes busier and noisier, and puppies lacking appropriate skills when greeting animals (including dogs and people) from other households. Please access the Q&A here.

RCVS Advice to clients

RCVS have issued advice for clients that aims to manage client expectations of the services veterinary practices can offer during the current situation. It should help them understand how vets are currently required to prioritise public health and safety, whilst also working to uphold animal health and welfare in extremely challenging circumstances. You can point clients to this advice which is available here.

BVA Advice to clients

The following advice on pet behaviour has been made available from the BVA -

Advice for all clients regarding behavioural changes in their pets

Advice sheets for kitten owners

Advice sheets for puppy owners

Advice for Breeders & Animal related Businesses (excluding veterinary practices)

CFSG has provided advice for breeders and animal related businesses (excluding veterinary practices) to support them operating in a safe manner to protect the health of their staff and clients. Government is keen to see businesses continue to operate, however, this is subject to businesses complying with the requirements relating to social distancing and hygiene. Further information can be found here.

Animal Welfare Network Wales (AWNW) has issued similar information for Wales in their guidance for animal related businesses.

The Kennel Club have issued advice for breeders which you can find here

CFSG have issued Guidance for companion animal rescue and rehoming organisations which you can find here

Animal Welfare Network Wales (AWNW) has issued similar information for Wales in their guidance for animal rescue and rehoming organisations.

Please note: we are keen to help the veterinary community access relevant advice and information during these uncertain times. Whilst we will do our best to screen the information we share for relevancy and accuracy, BSAVA are not liable for any content produced by third parties.

 

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