Dog owners and coronavirus (Covid-19) FAQs

Last updated: 3 April 2020

Given the rapidly changing situation, please regularly check the latest government advice and continually assess your own situation based on this information. The Kennel Club is in regular contact with Defra to keep up-to-date on developments.

The most recent government measures everyone must comply with are:

  • Stay at home
  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work
  • Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home

The full guidance on complying with these measures is available on the GOV.UK website:

Guidance for pet owners is available from the government here.

Can dogs catch or transmit coronavirus?              

The new type of coronavirus (Covid-19) is currently being passed between humans and there is no evidence that it affects dogs, or can be transmitted between dogs and humans. The World Health Organisation (WHO) have said: 'There is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit Covid-19.'

What precautions should I take with my dog?  

If you have tested positive for the virus, or have symptoms, limit physical contact with your dog – as hard as it may be. Otherwise, if you are feeling well but staying at home and away from others, take extra hygiene precautions; try to avoid your dog licking your face, bath your dog often and regularly wash your hands with soap and water after touching them and preparing their food.

Can I walk my dog?        

The government measures permit one form of exercise a day such as a run, a walk or a cycle, so dog owners, as long as they are well and not showing any symptoms, can walk their pet once a day as part of these exercising guidelines. Households with two or more adults can take it in turns to walk their dog if they usually go more than once a day. When taking your dog out, government advice is to stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily, and avoid others, staying at least two metres (around three steps) away. Wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you get back from your dog walk.

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.

Anyone who is vulnerable or elderly, with underlying health conditions, should be especially stringent and stay indoors even if they do not show any symptoms.

Can someone walk my dog for me if I can't – for example 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. Advice from the Kennel Club and other experts on how specifically to walk someone else’s dog safely during the pandemic can be found here. 

Further government guidelines on how to safely help others during the pandemic can be found here.

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.

Further government guidelines on how to safely help others during the pandemic can be found here.

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.

What can I do to keep my dog active?   

It challenging to keep your dog active now we’re all advised to stay at home and avoid others. Here are some tips to try indoors or in a garden, if you have one:

- 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

Agria, the Kennel Club’s pet insurance company, working with Carolyn Menteith, a Kennel Club Accredited Instructor, have developed some guidance of what dog owners can do with their dogs while in self-isolation. This guidance includes how owners can use the opportunity while self-isolating to improve the bond with their dog, such as interactive games owners can play with their dogs. For further information please click the below links.

https://www.agriapet.co.uk/hub-agria-blog/2020/march/dog-fun-at-home/, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCZJP-XM-VA&feature=youtu.be

Can I take my dog to the groomers?

Grooming is not seen as an essential business in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. 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. We have shared some tips from a groomer on how to manage grooming at home here.

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