As an owner or keeper of an animal you still have a duty to care for the welfare of that animal.

The following page contains information and advice for pet owners and animal businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Can animals get COVID-19?

There is no evidence of coronavirus circulating in pets or other animals in the UK and there is nothing to suggest animals may transmit the disease to humans.

However there is some suggestion that the virus can be transferred on the coat or fur of animals and on equipment associated with animals such as dog leads or horse saddles.

In line with the general advice on fighting coronavirus, you should wash your hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals. For recommended practices on hand washing visit the NHS - best way to  wash your hands.

If you are unable to care for your animal because your are ill, isolating or vulnerable then you must make arrangements for someone else to care for your animal.

Dog walking

You may leave your house to exercise once a day and you should combine this with walking your dog. 

In doing so, it is important that you minimise the time spent outside of the home and remain 2 meters away from anyone outside of your household.

All non-essential trips to vets should be avoided. If your pet needs urgent treatment, you may take them, but you should phone your vet first for advice.

Walking some else's dog

You may also leave your house to provide care or help a vulnerable person.

This includes walking a dog for someone who is unable to leave their house because they are self isolating or being shielded. Friends, family or a professional dog walker may exercise a dog on behalf of someone else.

For full guidelines you must follow when walking someone else's dog visit CSFG - walking someone else's dog - COVID-19.

Cats

You should wash your hands before and after any contact with your cat.

Horses, livestock or other animals

You may leave your house to exercise once a day and you should combine this with leaving your house to provide care for your horse or livestock.

You may also ride your horse as it is important for the welfare of the animal.

You must follow all social distancing guidelines at your livery yard.

If your horse requires urgent attention from a vet or farrier, you should phone the vet or farrier to arrange the best approach to meet your horses needs.

Businesses that deal with animals

Some businesses that deal with animals have to close whilst others do not.

Members of the public should only visit open premises if they are permitted to do so by the government guidelines. For example, to obtain food for the animal or for the essential welfare of the animal.

Licensed premises

The Council has taken the decision to automatically extend all licenses that expire during the Covid-19 emergency.

This is to avoid unnecessary social contact between business operators and reduce the financial burden on business at this time. This decision is subject to change at any time.

If you operate a licensed business and your license is due to expire and you have not had a letter from the Council please contact us. We are not processing any new applications at this time.

Dog and cat boarding, day care and home boarding

These premises do not have to close. However they should only be offering services to:

  • key workers
  • vulnerable individuals
  • persons who are ill
  • persons who are trapped abroad

Premises guidelines 

If an animal is taken from a COVID-19 infected household it should be wiped down with a pet safe disposable damp cloth and kept in isolation for 3 days to ensure that it is not carrying the Covid-19 virus.

Where appropriate dogs and cats could be bathed.

Any equipment that comes with the animal should be thoroughly washed with soap and water and disinfected where appropriate.

Premises may transport  animals from their home to the business premises, so long as animals from one household are transported at one time and vehicles are given a thorough disinfection between household animals.

Vaccinations

Conditions of license requires the vaccination of animals accepted into the licensed premises. However many vets are only undertaking emergency care at this time and therefore many people cannot get their animal vaccinations updated.

Therefore the Council is prepared to relax these conditions during the Covid-19 emergency. However premises must ensure they:

  • undertake a written risk assessment for the acceptance of non-vaccinated animals
  • animals are isolated (In your isolation facilities or in a separate kennel enclosure etc) from other animals at all times.

If you cannot do this, you should not board the animal.

Pet shops

These premises do not have to close as they are providing food and equipment for the care of animals and persons can visit these premises as one of the reasons to leave you home.

You should not visit a pet shop for the sole purpose of purchasing a new pet, but may do so if buying food for an existing pet.

Riding schools

These premises must close as they are leisure centres and must not offer riding to members of the public.

Employees can still visit the premises to care for the animals, including riding them for the animals exercise. Animals at Livery at these premises can also be attended by their owners or employees.

You can find information on horse vaccinations on the Rossdales Veterinary Surgeons website.

Dog breeding establishments

Dog breeders are not prohibited from trading under the current regulations, but the restrictions that prevent persons from leaving their home present a number of challenges.

Persons cannot travel to a breeder to buy a puppy as it is not one of the permitted reasons to leave their home.

Lucy's law requires that the mother must be seen with a puppy at the point of sale. As such it is considered that to avoid potential welfare problems with the sale of these animals from breeders during the emergency response and the need for social distancing, video footage is shared by the breeder of the offspring with their mother prior to the sale.

Travelling to deliver a puppy

Where a breeder does undertake delivery and the journey will be over 40 miles (65kms), it is considered that they will be caught by the rules relating to the Welfare of Animals in Transport EU Regulation 1/2005 and it is advised that they seek authorisation with the APHA Welfare of Animals in Transport Team by completing an application form.

It is strongly recommended that breeders do not plan to have any litters until the Covid-19 emergency is concluded.

You should always use the Canine and Feline Sector Group (CFSG) dog handover protocol

More information on breeding can be found on the Kennel Club website.

Non-licensed businesses

Dog walking

Dog walking services may still be provided, subject to public health rules being maintained including social distancing.

Only dogs from the same household should be walked together and any vehicle used to transport the dogs should be thoroughly disinfected between dogs.

Dog walkers should use gloves and change them between households. You are encouraged to minimise the touching of clients dogs at this time.

For full guidelines you must follow when walking someone else's dog visit CSFG - walking someone else's dog - COVID-19.

Dog groomers

Members of the public cannot visit dog grooming salons, it is not a permitted reasons to leave the house. However dog groomers can collect dogs from persons homes and take them back to their salon for grooming as long as animals from one household are transported at one time and vehicles are given a thorough disinfection between dogs.

Mobile dog groomers can still operate, subject to public health rules being maintained including social distancing.

Dog breeders

Not all dog breeders require an animal welfare licence

Unlicensed dog breeders are not considered businesses therefore they cannot deliver puppies.

Persons cannot travel to a breeder to buy a puppy as it is not one of the permitted reasons to leave their home.

For more information on breeding visit the Kennel Club.

Veterinary surgeries

Veterinary surgeries do not have to close.

You are permitted to travel to obtain emergency care from a vet for your animal. However many vets are only offering emergency care at this time. You should contact your vet for advice prior to making a journey with your pet.

Livery yards

Livery yards can continue to allow the owners/keepers of horses to visit to care for their animals.

All persons visiting the Livery yard must follow social distancing guidelines.

This information is correct at the date of publishing on 7 April 2020.