dog on girls knee with ipad in home

Coronavirus advice for pet owners

As pet owners and lovers, it’s just as important to us that we understand how the current pandemic affects our furry friends.

As pet owners and lovers, it’s just as important to us that we understand how the current pandemic affects our furry friends. In a time of such quick change, it can be difficult to keep up or decipher the information out there but that’s where we think we can help.

We have a highly skilled veterinary team here who will be updating this page regularly with common questions and any new developments.

What all pet owners need to know about COVID-19 and their pets

  • There is no evidence that pets play a role in the spread of COVID-19
  • There have not been any reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19
  • There is currently no evidence that pets could be a source of infection to people
  • Remember that animals can spread other diseases to people such as E.coli and Salmonella so (as always), thoroughly wash your hands before and after handling pets, their food and their supplies

Please check back on this page as we will be updating it regularly. Should you have a question for our veterinary team regarding your pets and the coronavirus (COVID-19), please get in touch on Facebook using #AskTheVets and we’ll do our best to answer them.


The government has clearly indicated that you should stay at home at all times. Whilst you’re allowed out for food (including your pet’s food) these trips should be as infrequent as possible so please plan ahead. If you have symptoms of the virus, however mild, you shouldn’t leave your house at all for 7 days, all other household members who remain well must also stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.

Plan ahead and think about what supplies you need for your pets in order to be able to stay at home for the 7 or 14 days. Remember that you can still order pet supplies from the Pets at Home website and therefore don’t have to visit the store.

Depending on which pets you own, think about:

  • Food
  • Medication
  • Bedding (wood shavings/hay)
  • Cat litter
  • Arranging a dog walker
  • Arranging for a friend or family member who could care for your pets if needed

If you are not ill with a persistent cough or fever, you can interact with your pets as you normally would. You should continue to adopt good hygiene practices around your pets including washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling your pets, your pets’ food and their supplies and generally maintaining a clean household environment. See below for more information on dog walking.

If you are ill with Covid-19, the current advice is to limit contact with animals as a precautionary measure until more information is known about the virus. We appreciate this can be very difficult; try and keep a distance as much as possible and follow good hygiene precautions if you do interact with your pet including hand washing before and after contact. If possible, have another member of your household take care of feeding and playing with your pet. Don’t share food, kiss or hug them and don’t let them sleep on your bed.

Consider whether your pet(s) can be looked after by a friend or family member temporarily. In the case of dogs, consider arranging for someone outside of your household to exercise your dog for you. Make sure to avoid close contact with anyone collecting your dog for a walk and remind them of good hygiene measures as well.

Check and follow current NHS advice including washing your hands regularly, coughing into your elbow and disposing of used tissues immediately.

If you have symptoms of the virus or live with someone who could be affected, you should not leave your house for 7 or 14 days. Try and arrange for someone to exercise your dog, taking care to restrict any close contact with the person walking your dog and making sure they practice good hygiene.

If you are well, you are allowed to leave the house for one form of exercise a day, alone or with members of your household. Even when doing this, including dog walking, you should minimise time spent outside of your home and ensure you maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres with people outside of your household. Understandably, this means you won’t be able to walk your dog as normal. 

We would recommend keeping your dog on a lead to prevent any accidents or injuries – our vets won’t be operating at their normal capacity so please keep your pets as safe as possible.

You are only allowed one form of exercise a day, alone or with members of your household so you won’t be able to walk your dog as normal.

There is no evidence pets play a role in the spread of Covid-19. Keeping a cat indoors that is used to go out can lead to a lot of stress and other health and welfare problems for your pet such as urinary and skin issues. There are measures you can take to keep your cat safe at a time where veterinary services are limited. This includes not letting your cat out from dusk to dawn as the risk of cat fights and road traffic accidents is higher during these times.

If you have a kitten or young cat which is not fully vaccinated, and/or isn’t neutered, you should keep them indoors.

Hopefully with everyone staying inside, pet accidents and emergencies will decrease. To help minimise trips to the vets, there are little things you can do to try and keep your pets as safe as possible:

  • Try and stick to your normal routine as much as possible
  • Consider products such as Adaptil, Feliway and Pet Remedy, or other calming products as advised by your vet
  • Make sure your pets have a safe and quiet place to retreat to if they’re not used to having a lot of people in the house all day
  • Don’t suddenly change your pets’ diet or try new treats to avoid digestive upsets
  • Be careful with toys and chews that might cause problems if eaten, if in doubt remove the item before it can cause a problem
  • Be aware of common pet poison hazards around the house such as antifreeze and lilies for cats and chocolate (keep those Easter eggs out of reach), rodenticide and human medication for dogs
  • Make sure your houseplants are either safe for pets or well out of reach
  • With more gardening and DIY being carried out whilst people are at home, be mindful of what products you use. Keep dangerous chemicals, poisons and tools well away and avoid using where pets have access
  • Supervise your dog at all times and do not let your cat out if they’re not neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies
  • Don’t let your cat outside if they’re not fully vaccinated. For dogs, your garden might be safe, but check with your vet for further advice
  • Don’t let your dog off the lead as this reduced the risk of accidents and injuries
  • Do not keep rabbits together that haven’t been bonded to prevent fighting

Should a serious accident or emergency take place, please contact your vet immediately.

Just like with human supermarkets, we have seen a rush of people stocking up on their pet’s supplies. There is no shortage on pet food but with this high increase in demand, it will take some time to get back to normal stocking levels. If you didn’t manage to get your usual pet food and it is sold out, you will have to feed an alternative diet. Here are some tips to ensure the transition goes as smoothly as possible to avoid any digestive issues:

  • Buy more pet food BEFORE you completely run out, this means you can introduce the food gradually. Sudden diet changes are a common reason for digestive upsets in pets
  • Make sure the food is correct for your pet’s lifestage
  • If your pet is on a prescription food for a particular health issue check with your vet for advice. There might be other brands with a similar food you can buy instead
  • Stick with the texture of food your pet is used to e.g. wet or dry. For cats especially, who are renowned to be picky, matching the texture of their normal food can help them accepting a new food e.g. a paté versus chunks in gravy
  • Do not be tempted to start home cooking food for your pets, these diets will not be complete and over time your pet will lack essential minerals and vitamins which could lead to serious health issues

For a more detailed guide on switching your dog’s food, please read our guide on changing their diet.

For a more detailed guide on switching your cat’s food, please read our guide on changing their diet.