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?
The full guidance on complying with the most recent measures in England is available on the GOV.UK website:
- New rules on staying at home and away from others
- Stay at home: guidance for households with possible Covid-19 infection
What precautions should I take with my dog?
- try to avoid your dog licking your face
- bath your dog often
- regularly wash your hands with soap and water after touching them and preparing their food.
Can I walk my dog?
The government measures now permit an unlimited amount of exercise a day so dog owners, as long as they are well and not showing any symptoms, can walk their pet as part of these exercising guidelines.
When taking your dog out there is differing advice between national governments as to whether you should stay local. In England, dog walkers are able to travel to non-local areas in order to exercise their dog(s). However, in Scotland and Wales dog walkers must exercise within their local area. This also applies in Northern Ireland, which limits exercise to a 5km radius of your household.
During these walks, you must stay at least two metres (around three steps) away from others outside of your household. Wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you get back from your dog walk. Government advice on staying safe outside your home is available.
If you are self-isolating and showing symptoms you are advised not to leave your home for any reason, including walking your dog. If you have a garden you can let your dog out there to go to the toilet, exercise and play. If you are self-isolating and you live alone, and do not have a garden, then you should try and minimise the number of times that you take your dog out.
Anyone who is vulnerable or elderly, with underlying health conditions, should be especially stringent.
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?
The government measures set out that you can ask a friend or relative to take your dog out for you if you are self-isolating, vulnerable or elderly, but let them know in advance if you are self-isolating and follow government guidelines and social distancing measures when handing over your dog. Always wash your hands before and after handling your dog and ask whoever walks your dog to do so as well.
Are there any precautions I should be taking with other people’s dogs?
I am currently on my own, who can I look for help with my dog at this time?
A friend or relative may be able to care for your dog for you if you have symptoms, or are vulnerable or elderly, 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 owners provide vital loving care for their pets and help keep them together - be this through walking dogs or fostering when owners might be in hospital. During this time of uncertainty their volunteers are on hand to help the elderly or vulnerable that might be in self-isolation or feeling poorly and can’t get out.
Is it safe to take my dog to the vets?
Government advice, regardless of if you are showing symptoms, is to stay at home and avoid others unless absolutely necessary, so if your pet needs vet care during this period, call your vet in the first instance. Don’t leave the house to go to your vet if you are self-isolating.
Can I take my dog to the groomers?
Groomers and their clients should consider whether the necessary human contact and travel are essential or in current circumstances may be delayed to protect public health. However, The Kennel Club appreciates that within some breeds, grooming is seen as a welfare issue and would recommend owners refer to the British Groomers Association for up-to-date information, and to speak to your usual groomer for advice if you can.
How can I get help with training my dog during coronavirus?
What can I do to keep my dog active?
- try playing hide and seek with your dog - hiding treats or toys around the house for them to find
- if you have a garden you can let them out to play, run around, sniff and explore
- teach your dog a new trick or practise training
Can dogs catch, get or transmit cornoavirus?
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.