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Coronavirus (covid-19): Advice To Owners Of Companion Animals And Livestock

28th March 2020

Advice to owners of companion animals and livestock who may be required to self-isolate as part of government advice on coronavirus (COVID-19).

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice to owners of companion animals and livestock.

Dog walking and Social Distancing

Q. What are the rules for walking dogs now everyone is only allowed out for exercise once per day?

A. It is accepted that dogs may need to be taken out more than once per day if they do not have access to a garden or other area to toilet. This must be done following the guidance on social distancing so that you do not come within 2 metres of other people and wash your hands after returning.


Q. Are there any extra precautions for animals in shielding households (where people are in the high risk category)?

A. The advice for self-isolating households also applies. If you have arrangements for others to walk your dog, particular care should be taken to avoid them entering your home unless absolutely essential.

Self Isolation

Q. Can I walk dogs or look after other pets for people who are ill or self-isolating as they may have Covid-19?

A. This is permitted - where practical pets should be cared for away from their home for the isolation period so that repeated visits are avoided. Strict social distancing should be followed when pets are collected or returned so you avoid coming within 2 metres of the people self-isolating and wash your hands afterwards. You should only enter their home if absolutely necessary and stay for as short a time as possible. Dogs from self-isolating households should be kept on a lead and contact avoided with other people and animals if being walked in public.

Q. Are there any precautions for pets or other animals in self-isolating households?

A. There have not been any reports of companion or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 and currently there is no evidence that they play a significant role in this human disease. It is recommended that those who have COVID-19 or are displaying symptoms, adopt the hygiene measures above when handling their pets.

When handling and caring for animals, good hygiene measures should always be implemented. Dogs from self-isolating households should be kept on a lead and contact avoided with other people and animals if being walked in public.

People under self-isolation who are responsible for the care of any animals, including horses and livestock, must ensure the animals continue to be cared for during the period of self-isolation. Wherever possible arrangements should be made in advance with friends family or neighbours that can be put in place should the need arise.

Q. I am in self isolation. Where can I go for help or advice on caring for my animals?

If you are too unwell to care for your animals and do not have anyone near-by who can help, for further advice and support please phone:

For companion animals- the Scottish SPCA animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

For livestock - the Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution on 0300 111 4166 (7am - 11pm).


Q. Is it an essential journey to travel to care for animals away from my home like relatives' pets, horses in stables or animals in rescue centres?

A. Journeys to feed or provide other essential care for animals are acceptable. These should be done in a way that follows the guidance on social distancing so that you do not come within 2 metres of people who are not part of your household and wash your hands after returning. You should if possible make arrangements to share the care of animals at stables etc and minimise the number of people who need to visit each day.


Q. Is there a COVID-19 risk from domestic animals or livestock?

A. There is no evidence that companion animals such as dogs and cats, or livestock can be infected with COVID-19. There is no evidence that they become ill as a result of COVID-19.

Q. Are there any precautions to take with live animals or animal products?

A. General hygiene measures should be applied. These include regular hand washing with soap and water after touching animals and animal products, as well as avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth until hands have been thoroughly washed.

As per general good food safety practices, raw meat and dairy products should be handled with care. Meat from healthy livestock that is cooked thoroughly remains safe to eat.

Q. Can boarding kennels and catteries remain open?

A. Boarding kennels and catteries can provide a valuable service caring for pets of essential workers and those who become seriously ill and have no-one else to look after their pet. They may remain open for these purposes if they follow the guidance on social distancing for their staff and owners when animals arrive or are collected.

Q. Can I still take my pet to the vets?

A. Vets will continue to provide emergency services. You should contact your vet before travelling to check that a visit is essential and their arrangements for social distancing at the surgery.