Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for animal owners

Advice for pet owners and livestock keepers on looking after the health and welfare of their animals during the coronavirus pandemic.

General overview

There is limited evidence that some animals, including pets, can become infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans), following close contact with infected humans.  Infected animals tend to show only mild symptoms and recover within a few days.  In several countries in the world, incidents of infection in companion animals, mostly cats and dogs, have been reported in companion animals, in a limited number of zoo animals and on mink in farms.  In the UK, there is no evidence of the virus circulating in livestock, cases in pets are very rare and there are no mink farms.  The primary driver for COVID-19 transmission is human to human contact.

In line with general public health guidance on coronavirus you should:

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

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

If your animal needs veterinary care, you can arrange to have it seen by your vet but you should notify them by phone prior to attending.

Ferrets

This is specific guidance for ferret owners

Avoid contact with ferrets if you have had a positive COVID-19 test or have symptoms suggestive of it. If you are the ferret carer, someone else will need to look after the ferret if possible. If this is not possible, you should wear a facemask and gloves.

If you own a ferret, you must isolate it for 3 weeks (21 days) if:

  • you or your household are self-isolating
  • you have brought ferrets into the UK from countries not on the travel corridor list

Isolation means avoiding contact with either ferrets or people from other households.  If your ferret needs emergency veterinary care, you can arrange to have it taken to the vet but you should notify them of the situation prior to attending.

Horses, livestock and other animals

If you are self-isolating

You should make a plan for the care of your horse or livestock in case you need to self-isolate.

If you are self-isolating and your horse or livestock are kept at your home, you may continue to care for them.  However, if your animals are not kept at your home you should arrange for someone else who is not self-isolating to care for them. 

This advice applies equally to private animal keepers and farm businesses.

Contact DAERA, should you need to discuss the care of farmed animals or animals kept in riding establishments, boarding kennels, pet shops or zoos:

Contact your local council should you need to discuss the care of domestic pets, including horses, and non-farmed animals:

Current general advice

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