Living with dogs during the Covid-19 pandemic
Given the rapidly changing situation, please regularly check the latest government advice across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and continually assess your own situation based on this information and where you are in the UK.
The Kennel Club is in regular contact with Defra to keep up-to-date on developments. Take a look at our Covid-19 hub to find out useful information to keep you and your dog safe during this time.
Questions and answers to help you
Where can I find the latest government guidance?
What precautions should I take with my dog?
If you are feeling well but staying at home, take extra hygiene precautions:
- Avoid your dog licking your face
- Bathe your dog often, but be careful to not dry out their skin
- Regularly wash your hands with soap and water after touching them and preparing their food
If you have tested positive for the virus or are symptomatic, limit physical contact with your dog – as hard as it may be.
I’m due to collect my new puppy. What should I do?
As a priority, we must all be following the relevant Covid-19 Government measures. Currently restrictions on non-essential travel apply across most of the UK. These vary by nation and we strongly recommend you check the guidance for your area, via the links at the top of this page, before planning or proceeding with getting or collecting a puppy at this time.
As of 6 January 2021, guidance for each nation is as follows:
- England – For those breeders who are in the business of breeding, then it is allowed within the regulations to leave home to travel for the purposes of work, as long as social distancing and hygiene requirements are adhered to when taking puppies to their new homes. The use of a commercial transporter licensed for dogs may also be considered by breeders who are not considered a ‘business’. Where this is not possible, and it is reasonably necessary for the pet’s welfare, a new owner may collect the puppy. A puppy should be collected by appointment only. Further information and advice for those in England can be found on the Government website.
- Wales – For those who are in the business of breeding, then it may be permissible to deliver puppies to new owners. The use of a commercial transporter licensed for dogs may also be considered by breeders who are not considered a ‘business’.
- Scotland – For those who are in the business of breeding, then it is allowed within the regulations for a dog breeder to travel, if necessary, for work purposes. The use of a commercial transporter licensed for dogs may also be considered if your breeder is not considered a ‘business’. Collection of a puppy from a breeder is subject to the advice and rules on travel. The guidance states that travel for essential animal welfare reasons is permitted. Collection of a puppy is therefore permitted if it is essential for the puppy’s welfare that they be moved from the breeder’s premises
- Northern Ireland – You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary - a reasonable excuse does include to attend to the care of an animal. Up to six people from two different households can mix in private gardens. For those breeders who are in the business of breeding, then it is allowed within the regulations to leave home to travel for the purposes of work, as long social distancing and hygiene requirements are adhered to when taking puppies to their new homes. The use of a commercial transporter licensed for dogs may also be considered by breeders who are not considered a ‘business’.
The Kennel Club and other animal welfare experts have produced further short-term emergency advice specifically for breeders and others involved in pet businesses in England. This includes advice on how to safely transport puppies at this time.
Can I walk my dog?
Make sure to keep up to date with the relevant Government guidance in your nation and continually assess your own situation according to the restrictions and advice. This may differ between nations and/or local areas, for example in some cases, Government are advising that exercise is taken locally where possible. Whilst on walks, ensure that you socially distance from anyone not in your household and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds as soon as you return home from your dog walk.
If you are self-isolating and/or symptomatic, follow the relevant Government advice and do not leave your home for any reason, including walking your dog. If you have a garden you can let your dog out to go to the toilet, exercise and play. If you are self-isolating and do not have a garden, you can ask a friend, relative or professional to exercise your dog for you, advice on how to do this safely is below.
Can someone walk my dog for me if I can't, e.g. if I am self-isolating or if I’m a key worker?
Please consult local restrictions and the relevant national guidance, and refer to these when assessing your own situation. You may be able to ask a friend or relative to take your dog out for you if you are self-isolating, vulnerable, or elderly. You must let them know in advance if you are self-isolating and follow the Government’s social distancing and protection measures – such as washing hands thoroughly and wearing a mask – when handing over your dog. The Kennel Club and other animal welfare experts have produced further short-term emergency advice on how to walk someone else’s dog safely.
There’s also advice available from the government about how to safely help others during the pandemic.
What precautions should I take with other people’s dogs?
We recommend avoiding touching dogs that live outside of your household if possible. If you do pet a stranger’s dog, remember to clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand gel afterwards or to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds.
I am currently on my own. Who can I look for help with my dog at this time?
Depending on restrictions, a friend or relative may be able to assist you with caring for your dog, but let them know in advance if you are self-isolating and follow Government guidelines when handing over your dog, maintaining social distancing measures. Always wash your hands before and after handling your dog and preparing their food, and ask whoever cares for your dog to do so as well.
There is also support available from various online local community groups and charities, including The Cinnamon Trust – a specialist national charity that helps the elderly to look after their much-loved and much-needed companion animals. They have a network of over 17,000 volunteers all over the UK who help pet owners provide vital loving care for their pets and help keep them together – whether this is through walking dogs or fostering them when their owners are in hospital. During this time of uncertainty, volunteers are on hand to help the elderly or vulnerable that might be in self-isolation or feeling poorly and can’t get out.
Can I take my dog to the vets?
If your pet needs vet care during this period, call your vet in the first instance as they will be able to advise the best course of action. Don’t leave the house to go to your vet if you are self-isolating. Ensure that you regularly check the Government guidance for your local area and continually self-assess your situation.
At any veterinary practice, it is vital you follow guidance regarding wearing a mask and maintaining social distance for both your safety and the safety of others. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after attending.
What if my dog needs grooming?
If you are subject to lockdown restrictions, you should consider whether your dog’s grooming can be delayed until the end of any lockdown period. If this is not possible and grooming is necessary for welfare reasons, please call your usual groomer in the first instance. Don’t leave your home if you are self-isolating or showing symptoms and make sure you’re following the Government guidance and restrictions depending on where you are. Links to each nation’s guidance can be found at the top of this page.
There is further information and advice for groomers and other pet businesses available from the Canine and Feline Sector Group.
How can I get help with training my dog during coronavirus?
Some of The Kennel Club's Accredited Instructors and training clubs are running online sessions that you may be able to get involved in – you can find these online.
Depending on where you are and which restrictions apply, some dog training classes may still be able to operate with social distancing and other measures in place. In the first instance, call your dog trainer. Defra-approved advice for dog trainers and other pet businesses in England is available via the Canine and Feline Sector Group.
We also have training advice for some issues which may have come about due to lockdown.
What can I do to keep my dog active?
Here are some tips to try indoors or in a garden, if you have one:
- Play hide and seek with your dog – hiding treats or toys around the house for them to find
- If you have a garden, let them out to play, run around, sniff and explore
- Teach your dog new tricks or practice training
- The Kennel Club has advice and ideas of things to do at home with your dog or puppy – from teaching recall to fun outdoor games
Can dogs catch, get or transmit coronavirus?
The current pandemic is a result of human to human transmission and there is no evidence of animal to human transmission. The alleged animal source of virus remains under investigation.
The World Organisation for Animal Health says that while there is a possibility for some animals, including dogs, to become infected through contact with already infected human, there is no evidence the virus can spread from animals to humans. Studies are underway to help us better understand how the infection spreads in animals.
Questions and answers about your dog's health
If dogs aren’t transmitting Covid-19, why are there a small number of cases of dogs positive?
There have been a very small number of reports of dogs testing positive for the novel coronavirus following contact with infected humans. However, those animals didn’t show signs of the disease and it is believed they tested positive due to breathing in contaminated air from infected humans or carrying the disease on their fur.
As with any surface, if someone with Covid-19 touches, sneezes or coughs on a dog, the virus could temporarily contaminate them. Although we don’t know how long Covid-19 can survive on surfaces, scientists think that it could range from a few hours to several days, depending on the type of surface, how warm it is and levels of humidity.
Can my dog become unwell from Covid-19?
No. There have been no cases of dogs becoming unwell from this new type of coronavirus.
If your dog is unwell then it is very unlikely that Covid-19 is the cause of their illness, but it is still important that you contact your vet to find out what is causing their illness.