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 on socail distancing at all times.

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

If you go abroad, you should plan how you will care for your animals if you are told to quarantine for 14 days on your return.

Animals with coronavirus

In line with public health guidance, 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.

It is rare for an animal to contract coronavirus, and they tend to show only mild symptoms and recover within a few days.

There is no evidence that coronavirus passes between animals or that pets transmit the virus to humans.

If your animal needs vet treatment

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

Dogs

You must follow the rules on self isolation if you:

  • have symptoms of COVID-19, however mild
  • test positive for coronavirus
  • have been abroad and told to quarantine on your return

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

If you are not self isolating

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, such as wearing a face covering, where 2 metres is not viable.

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.

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, its food and bedding
  • avoid close contact such as kissing or cuddling if you are self-isolating
  • not share food with your pet

Horses, livestock and other animals

You must follow the rules on self isolation if you:

  • have symptoms of COVID-19, however mild
  • test positive for coronavirus
  • have been abroad and told to quarantine on your return

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 or kept animals such as alpacas, 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 are not self isolating

You may:

  • leave your house to provide care for your horse or livestock.
  • ride your horse or walk your animals as normal

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 14 August 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated with guidance on caring for animals if you're returning from abroad and need to quarantine.

  2. Updated with information about a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a cat in England.

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

  4. 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.

  5. First published.