Covid 19: How to care for your pets while social distancing

Covid 19: How to care for your pets while social distancing

Published at 2:09pm 19th March 2020.

6 minute read

The RSPCA has issued some simple tips to help owners in Wiltshire and Hampshire keep their animals happy and healthy.

Animal welfare expert, Dr Samantha Gaines, said:

"There's no evidence to suggest that pets can be carriers of coronavirus or can become ill from it themselves."

"The latest 'social distancing' advice does not have a huge impact on pet owners, but dog walkers do need to follow Government advice and keep two meters away from others while they are out for a stroll."


If you're not showing any signs of coronavirus themselves or living with anyone who has symptoms then continue to interact with your pets but adopt good hygiene practices

  • Always adopt good hygiene practises 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 of you need to stay at home.
  • Enjoy dog walks but keep two meters away from other people
  • Speak to your vet or doctor for more advice. 


The charity is encouraging 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.

The RSPCA says its important to make sure you have supplies of pet food and medication.

If you own a horse or livestock and keep them on land that's 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).

Dog pixabay
If you have to self isolate get someone else to walk your dog


If you have symptoms or have been tested positive for Covid-19 then current advice from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association recommends you restrict contact with pets as you would with other people.

Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with Covid, it is still recommended that people sick with Covid limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with Covid avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask."

  • Limit contact with pets and other animals while you are sick
  • Do not go on dog 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, don't 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.


Dr Samantha Gaines from the RSPCA says there are some positive aspects.

"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."

Working from home? Extra time to spend with your pet.


    • Mental stimulation is a great way to keep your dog entertained and occupied so you can keep your dog happy by replacing exercise with other activities until you are able to take them back out for their usual walks. 
    • Try challenging your pooch at tea time - ditch the food bowl and feed Fido using a Kong or a food puzzle to get them thinking. 
    • Play, play, play! Most dogs love to play so set aside some time to have a good game of fetch or tug with your pooch. 
    • Learning a new trick or command is great mental stimulation for a dog. Get out their favourite treats and try teaching Fido how to wave his paw, 'sit', 'lie down', or 'roll-over'.
    • Get him sniffing - scent work can be a great way to keep them busy for ages! Hide treats around the garden or around the house and send them off in search of them. If you feed your dog kibble this can be a great way to serve them their meals!
    • Remember toilet breaks - remember your dog will still need to go outside to use the toilet so make sure they get regular access to the garden to potter, sniff and wee.
    • Spotify has recently launched 'My Dog's Favourite Podcast' which has a range of carefully selected spoken word, sound and original music designed to encourage relaxation.
Dog paw pixabay
Teaching your dog paw is a good way to beat the boredom blues.


  • Adopt good hygiene practices including washing hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after touching them and any shared yard  items such as wheelbarrows, brooms and forks. Avoid being licked by your horse.
  • Visit The British Horse Society websites for some practical tips.
  • Ensure you have sufficient supplies of feed and any medication needed.
  • Although you won't be able to take your horse beyond your land if you have suspected coronavirus, aim to ensure your horse is kept happy with sufficient exercise and stimulation, if possible increasing turnout, amending feeding accordingly and try providing any existing stable toys to keep his mind occupied as much as possible.



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