Guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for people in England with animals

Advice for pet owners and livestock keepers on looking after the welfare of animals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This advice applies to England only.

You should stay alert and follow the current coronavirus guidance at all times.

This is national guidance. Check if there are local restrictions in your area.

Can my pet contract coronavirus?

The virus that causes COVID-19 has been confirmed in one cat in England from a household containing people who had tested positive for COVID-19. This is a very rare event and the animal has made a full recovery. There is no evidence to suggest that pets directly transmit the virus to humans.

This is a very rare event. Experience from other countries is that infected animals to date only show mild clinical signs and recover within in a few days.

There is also no evidence to suggest that SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is circulating between animals, including both pets and food-producing animals in the UK.

All available evidence indicates that human-to-human transmission is responsible for the spread of coronavirus in the UK.

In line with general public health guidance on coronavirus, you should wash your hands before and after being around or handling animals or their food.

There is no evidence that you need to wash your pets to control the spread of coronavirus. Only wash or use products on your pets that are approved for use on animals.

If your animal needs vet treatment

If your animal needs treatment, phone the vet to arrange the best way to meet their needs.

Dogs

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, or test positive for coronavirus you must follow the rules on self isolation.

If your dog cannot exercise at home, you should ask someone outside of your household or suuport bubble to walk your dog for you.

If you do not have symptoms of coronavirus

You may leave your house to walk your dog. You should stay 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household or support bubble, or one metre with risk mitigation where 2 metres is not viable.

An example of risk mitigation would be wearing a face covering. You should consider that wearing a face covering may inhibit communication with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound.

When walking your dog in areas used by other people, you should consider putting your dog on a lead to ensure you can stay 2 metres away from others.

You should wash your hands before and after handling your dog.

If you’re walking dogs on behalf of someone not able to

You may walk a dog for someone who is unable to leave their house because they are self-isolating or being shielded.

You should wash your hands before and after handling the dog and keep 2 metres away from other people and animals, including when handing over the dog to the owner.

Cats

You should wash your hands before and after any contact with your cat.

Horses, livestock and other animals

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, or test positive for coronavirus you must follow the rules on self isolation

If you have a horse that you don’t keep at home (for example, you keep it in livery, a stables or on private land), you should not visit it whilst you are self-isolating. You should contact your yard manager or vet to make suitable animal welfare arrangements.

If you have livestock such as cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, or any other types of livestock, you should arrange for someone else who is not self-isolating to care for your animals.

Where this is not possible, you should ensure the basic needs of your animals are met.

You should wash your hands before and after handling your animals and stay 2 metres away from other people.

If you’re too unwell to care for your animals and there is no one to help, you should call your local authority.

If you do not have symptoms of coronavirus

You may:

  • leave your house to provide care for your horse or livestock.
  • ride your horse

You should stay 2 metres away from others. You should wash your hands before and after contact with any animals.

If your horse needs attention from a farrier

If your horse requires attention from a farrier, you should phone the farrier for advice to best meet your horse’s needs.

You and the farrier should stay 2 metres apart and wash your hands before and after contact with the horse.

Contact

If you have any queries, email the APHA Customer Advice team customeradvice@apha.gov.uk.

For commercial transporter enquiries, email the APHA Welfare in Transport team WIT@apha.gov.uk.

Published 27 March 2020
Last updated 27 July 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated with information about a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a cat in England.

  2. Updated guidance for people in England with pets or livestock.

  3. Updated the section under horse, livestock and other animals to clarify that you should contact your local authority if you're too ill to look after animals.

  4. First published.