COVID-19: updated advice for pet owners

22 JANUARY 2021

Sadly, the COVID-19 crisis has continued to dominate our lives in the early weeks of 2021. This pandemic has had a profound effect on the relationships we have with our animals, and for millions of people, pets are valuable members of the family who have provided comfort and companionship at an extremely challenging time. To help keep our pets safe, we’ve put together some advice around their care and to make sure people know where to go for up-to-date information.

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Guidance from the welfare sector

Battersea is a proud member of both the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH), the umbrella body for the rescue and rehoming sector, and the Canine & Feline Sector Group (CFSG). Since the crisis began, both groups have worked hard to help share information with both Government and the public, including advice for pet owners and rescue organisations as the situation has rapidly evolved and changed.

The latest CFSG guidance on coronavirus can be found here, whilst the ADCH hub is located here. Both are updated regularly and are useful first ports of call for guidance.

Advice from Battersea

Whilst there remain very few cases of pets contracting coronavirus, their fur and coats can help transmit the virus like any other surface. As such we h2ly advise owners to wash hands before and after touching their pets, bedding or food containers.

Following the announcement of a new national lockdown in January 2021, outdoor exercise has again been limited to once a day per person. However, the Government has recently updated their guidance outlining that you can go out more often if you need to walk your dog – but should limit this where possible. When walking your dog, it continues to be important to try to remain at least two metres away from anyone outside of your household or support bubble, and you should consider keeping your dog on a lead in any areas likely to be used by other people.

If you are self-isolating and your dog cannot exercise at home, you should arrange for someone outside of your household to walk your dog for you. We have also put some further guidance together on what to do if you are being asked to help walk somebody else’s dog at this time. As you may be unable to walk your dog as often as usual, Battersea also has advice on number of brain games and teaching tricks that you could consider to keep their mind active instead.

Veterinary care

In December 2020, Battersea published our first report to assess the impact of COVID-19 on pets and the animal welfare sector. Our report indicated a concerning drop in the number of people seeking veterinary care for their animals throughout the course of last year, with veterinary consultations down by 40% in some periods. It is important to note that, provided you can maintain social distancing, the latest guidance continues to allow owners to seek vet treatment for their animals and you should not postpone this. However, you should phone your vet first rather than simply going to the surgery.

Businesses relating to animals

As well as vets, retailers selling pet food and other products to support the welfare of animals are currently permitted to remain open. This extends to animal groomers, provided that the grooming is needed for the welfare of the animal and isn’t being undertaken purely for aesthetic reasons. You must always speak to the groomer first to arrange an appointment and follow safe handling procedures.

Staying up to date

The external picture is constantly evolving, and the Government’s guidance is also being regularly updated. Keep an eye on the Battersea website and our social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter for the very latest advice and guidance on what you can do to help take good care of your animals.

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