How to care for your pets staying at home and social distancing

The RSPCA is encouraging pet owners to think about how they will care for their animals if they need to stay at home with suspected symptoms of coronavirus.

The latest government guidance advises everyone to carry out ‘social distancing’ in order to stop the spread of coronavirus and protect vulnerable members of the community.

As a result of this advice, the government has said that people can go out for a walk if they stay two metres away from people.

RSPCA animal welfare expert, Dr Samantha Gaines, said: “There’s no evidence that suggest that pets can be carriers of coronavirus or become ill from it themselves. We would urge pet owners not to panic and not to abandon their pets.

“The latest ‘social distancing’ advice does not have a huge impact on pet owners, but dog walker do need to follow government advice and keep two metres away from others while they are out for a stroll.”

She added: “Pet owners who are not showing any signs of coronavirus themselves or living with anyone who has symptoms should continue to interact with their pets but adopt good hygiene practices including washing hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after touching them, their food, toys and bedding.

“This is good advice at any time and not specific to the Coronavirus situation. Avoid being kissed or kicked and sharing food with your pet.”

Social distancing tips for keeping your pets and family safe

  • Always adopt good hygiene practices and thoroughly wash your hands after interacting with your pets, such as rabbits, rodents, birds and reptiles.
  • Avoid being kissed or licked and sharing food with your pet.
  • Ensure you have supplies of pet food and medication in case you need to stay at home.
  • Enjoy dog walks but keep two metres away from other people.
  • Speak to your vet or doctor for more advice.

The charity encouraged pet owners to think about how they can care for their animals if they need to ‘stay at home’ if they or a member of the household show symptoms of the virus.

Sam added: “As well as good hygiene measures, pet owners should try and ensure you have supplies of pet food and medication if you need to ‘stay at home’. If you own a horse or livestock and keep them on land that is not based at your address, arrange for a friend to care for them until you’re able to return to normal. If possible, arrange for another person to care for your pet (you could consider using a dog walker or home boarder).

Additional guidance for people staying at home with suspected coronavirus:

  • Limit contact with pets and other animals while you are sick
  • Do not go on walks, instead exercise your dog in the garden or ask a friend or relative to help. A dog walker or boarder may also be able to help.
  • Ask friends to care for livestock and horses
  • If you feel unwell ask friends or a boarder to take your pets to be looked after.
  • If you have any concerns about your pet or your pet shows signs of ill health, please do not visit the vet but phone for advice. As you will be unable to take your pet to the vet yourself, have a plan so that someone else can do this on your behalf.

Sam added: “It’s so heartening to see people rallying round to support each other at these difficult times, we’d encourage anyone who needs help to ask for it, from friends neighbours and charities. One positive to come out of this is people will be working from home and spending extra time with their pets which is a great opportunity to try some new games.”