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 any lockdown restrictions specific to each country that may be in place.

Please note that Government advice can change at short notice therefore, it is advisable that you regularly check UK Government websites for the latest updates.

Updated as of February 2022.

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. Small animals that can contract SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, include dogs, cats, ferrets, rodents including hamsters, primates and white-tailed deer. There is growing evidence that mink, cats, white-tailed deer and hamsters can spread the virus through close contact with their own species in captivity. 

The limited evidence available at present suggests that coronavirus may pass from infected humans to certain pets as mentioned above following close contact or sharing their equipment or airspace.

Animal fur can act as a carrier (known as fomite transmission) for the virus that causes COVID-19 for short periods of time, in the same way as other surfaces.

Government advice for pet owners

Please note that Government advice can change at short notice therefore, it is advisable that pet owners regularly check UK Government websites for the latest updates.

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, food bowls or utensils with your pet.

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. You should only wash your pets in the usual way and use products on them that are approved for use on animals. Avoid hand sanitisers or wipes that may be harmful to pets. 

If you’re concerned about your pet because it has respiratory or digestive problems and a temperature, you should contact your vet who will decide if it needs to be tested. If you need to take your animal to the vet,  please wear a face covering if you’re asked to do so. 

Pet owners & self-isolation

It is recommended that pet-owners who are self-isolating, should avoid kissing or cuddling their pet and should not share food, food bowls, utensils or bedding.

Follow the COVID-19 cleaning guide to clean animal bedding and other items, such as leads or feeding bowls.

Make a plan for the care and welfare of animals in your care, in case you need to self-isolate. Arrange for someone else who is not self-isolating or use professional services to care for your animals. Notify anyone caring for your animals on your behalf in advance that you’re self-isolating and arrange a no-contact service where possible.

If there is no one to help, contact your vet or a local charity who may be able to advise you on resources near you that may be able to provide support.

Veterinary care

If an animal in your care needs emergency veterinary care while you’re self-isolating, you can arrange to have it taken to the vet, or take it to the vet yourself where necessary. You should only do this if it is not possible for another person to take your pet to the vet. You should tell the vet in advance that you’re self-isolating.

Exercising your pet

If your pet cannot be exercised at home during your self-isolation period, you should ask someone outside of your household or support bubble to exercise your pet for you, or access exercising services provided by a professional. If you are exercising a pet on behalf of someone who is self-isolating, you should wash your hands before and after contact with it.

Government resources

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

England

Scotland

Wales

Northern Ireland

 

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:

Isolation means avoiding contact with either ferrets or people from other households. 

If you’re a keeper in England or Wales, you should register your ferret or other mustelinae on the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) register. You should follow separate guidance if you’re in Scotland. A keeper of ferrets or other mustelinae is someone who takes care of them on a daily basis at work or as pets at home. Registration is voluntary. The register provides information on how to reduce the risk of you or your animal catching COVID-19. You’ll receive alerts if there is a COVID-19 outbreak among ferrets or other mustelinae. If you have any questions about the GB ferret register, telephone: 0800 6341112 for keepers in England or Wales or 01466 794323 for keepers in Scotland

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

England

Wales

Scotland

Northern Ireland

 

 

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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