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Advice to pet owners on how to care for their pets during the period of COVID-19 control measures.

First published:
1 April 2020
Last updated:

General information on animals and COVID-19

There is no evidence of SARS-Co-V-2 (the coronavirus which causes Covid-19 in people) circulating in pets or other animals in Wales. Worldwide, there have been a very small number of reports of the virus being identified in pet cats and dogs in households where people have COVID-19. In these circumstances, pets became infected from humans. There have been no reports and there is no evidence of pets transmitting the virus to humans.

In line with the Public Health Wales general advice on COVID-19, you should wash your hands regularly and before and after you come into contact with animals or pets. 

It is possible that the coat and face of pets could be contaminated with virus shed by people, for a short time, just as other surfaces can be.

The measures being taken to control COVID-19 are subject to change, possibly frequently, so do please keep yourself updated with the latest advice and instructions.

Advice on walking your dog

Walking your dog is considered to be a form of exercise that is permitted, notwithstanding the general restrictions on people’s movements that may be in place at various times. (Remember you should keep at least 2 metres apart from other people outside your household and we advise you to keep the dog on the lead for this reason).

Cats

Cats in households where people have Covid-19 or are self-isolating should be kept indoors, if possible.  Otherwise cats can be managed as usual. Further advice is available from the British Veterinary Association.

Ferrets

Ferrets are known to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19. As a precautionary measure, we would advise isolating your ferrets for 21 days if:

  • you or your household are self-isolating
  • you have recently returned with your pet through the Pet Travel Scheme back to Wales

Isolation means avoiding contact with either ferrets or people from other households. During the isolation period you should avoid:

  • using the ferret as a working animal
  • rabbiting, or
  • taking it for walks. 

If your ferret needs emergency veterinary care, you should contact your vet for further advice.

In-line with the current public health guidance, you should also:

  • wash your hands before and after any contact with your pet, its food and bedding
  • do not share food with your pet

Advice for pet owners who are in high risk groups or self-isolating

Advice for those walking pets on behalf of someone not able to

If you are walking a pet on behalf of someone who is unable to, you should wash your hands before and after handling that pet. You should try to walk the pet on a lead at all times and avoid direct contact with other people and animals. You should safely hand over a pet at the front door or hallway and avoid contact with the pet’s owner.

If you are walking a pet from a household that is showing symptoms of the virus, you should make sure that the pet does not mix with animals from other households. 

Keeping pets happy and healthy

Companion Animal Welfare Group Wales (CAWGW), supported by AWNW, has issued advice to Welsh pet owners:

This advice includes:

  • preventing separation anxiety
  • maintaining a healthy diet, and
  • providing a safe and comfortable home

Similar advice issued in England by the Canine and Feline Sector Group.

What to do if your pet is ill and needs veterinary attention

If your pet is injured, sick or needs to receive urgent treatment, phone the vet to arrange the best approach to meet your pet’s needs. Make specific arrangements before visiting any vet to minimise any risks of possible virus transmission.

For routine visits to vets, always phone the practice first to discuss your pet's needs.

Advice for veterinary surgeons

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the British Veterinary Association are providing advice to vets on how best to provide their services in changing circumstances.

Preventative measures regarding SARS-CoV2

If you are positive to a COVID-19 test or have symptoms suggestive of it (persistent cough, fever and loss of taste and smell are the most common ones) avoid direct contact, such as touching, petting, playing and grooming, and also indirect contact though touching items or food which your animal will come into contact with.