The UK is currently in lockdown, with many businesses closed and the government urging us all to stay at home wherever possible. This has been put into place to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, protect the NHS and save lives. If you’re a pet owner you might be wondering what all of this means for you – afterall you may still need to go outside to walk your dog or purchase pet food. We’ve detailed some of the advice we have come across on looking after your pet during a lockdown below.
What is a lockdown?
The lockdown was announced on Monday 23rd March by prime minister Boris Johnson and is currently due to last for 3 weeks, when it will be reviewed and extended or revised if necessary. The key message is that you should stay home wherever possible, with shops and entertainment premises close to help stop large crowds gathering. The government advice is;
- Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
- If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home
- Do not meet others, even friends or family
- You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms
Can my pet catch COVID-19?
There have been a couple of cases so far of animals testing positive for COVID-19, but this is extremely rare and there’s no evidence that animals can transmit it to humans. To protect yourself and your pet it’s important to wash your hands regularly, especially after you have been outside and if you have handled your pet.
Advice for dog owners
Current advice is that you can go outside to walk your dog once a day, but this should be close to your home and you should avoid travelling somewhere to do so. If you have any symptoms of coronavirus you should try to exercise your dog at home or ask someone else to walk them for you. You can walk “a dog for someone who is unable to leave their house because they are self isolating or being shielded. You should remember to wash your hands before and after handling the dog and keep 2 metres away from other people and animals, including when handing over the dog to the owner.”
Most veterinary practices are closed except for emergency appointments, so please remember to only visit if you absolutely have to and call ahead to find out if they can see you. Many vets are delivering medicines or treatments, so check with them if you need anything.
Battersea have some great ideas for brain games for dogs to keep them entertained during the lockdown.
Advice for cat owners
If you have symptoms of coronavirus you should try to keep your cat indoors, just incase they are carrying the virus on their fur and someone else touches them. Cats Protection say “As a precaution, it is advised that owners should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling their cat and that people who are infected with COVID-19 should be particularly careful by minimising contact with their pet and washing their hands before and after handling.”
Just like with dogs, you should only go to your vets if it is an emergency and you should call ahead. If you need a flea or worming treatment give your vet a call as they may be able to deliver to you or recommend somewhere to order online.
Your cat is likely wondering why you’re around so much at the moment, so why not take the time to get crafty and make some homemade cat toys? Cats Protection have some free DIY cat toy PDF downloads to make all sorts of things to keep your cat entertained.
Advice for small animal owners
There’s not much advice for small pet owners as generally they are kept indoors or in a confined space in the garden. However, if you have a bit more free time on your hands you can find lots of great ideas for DIY toys and feeding ideas for your small animal. We’ve saved some ideas to our ‘Pet Projects’ Pinterest board to get you started. As with cats and dogs you should regularly wash your hands before and after handling them, and only visit your vets for emergencies.
Advice for horse owners
If you have any symptoms of coronavirus you must not visit your horse while self isolating. Contact a friend, yard manager or vet to make arrangements for someone to do this for you. If you have no symptoms you can leave the house to exercise or care for your horse, but this must be combined with your once a day exercise. If you have an emergency you should phone a farrier or vet to find out the best way to care for your horse.
What to do if there’s a pet food shortage?
As we have seen, many people are panic buying all sorts of things in the supermarkets recently, including pet food. The shelves do seem to be restocked regularly, and the government have allowed pet shops to stay open during the lockdown. Some small shops are offering a delivery service for those self-isolating, and many online pet shops are still trading at the moment.
What happens to my pets if I get sick?
Make sure you have informed friends, family or neighbours about your pets and what to do if anything happens to you. The RSPCA have a downloadable sign for your door or window stating that are pets in your home, it also details who could help care for them in an emergency. Download a copy here.
If you are worried about what will happen to your pets if they pass away you can download our Letter of Wishes to ensure that they are looked after by Dignity when the time comes.
Many animal charities have had to close their doors during the lockdown, but the animals in their care still need food, attention and treatment. If you can, please consider donating to help them keep going through the pandemic. Look up your local branch or find a national charity helping animals in the UK.