Keeping pets happy and healthy over lockdown

As people across the UK see their previous routines become rapidly and drastically altered, our pets are also experiencing change. We explore some of the key issues that pet owners are experiencing as a result of the latest COVID-19 Government guidelines and what you can do to ensure your pet remains healthy and happy over this period.

Walking your dog 
When walking your dog, while you should ensure to stick within the current Government guidelines, if you have multiple members in your household you can individually take the dog out for the number of walks it needs to remain healthy. If this isn’t possible, it’s not a problem – simply take them out for a reasonable amount of time for their age and health.

When you’re out walking your dog, try to avoid letting others pet them and practice the same with dogs that approach you. While there isn’t much evidence to suggest that humans can pass the virus to animals, there is a risk of the infection being passed on from person to person via the dog’s fur, collar, and lead.

Keeping cats indoors 
PDSA recommends that if your cat is content to stay indoors, it is advisable to do so to avoid spreading the virus on their fur and collars. However, if this is likely to stress your cat out, then continue to let them outside but try to minimise your interaction with them. If you do handle them or their litter tray, remain diligent around washing your hands.

For any pet which isn’t getting the opportunity to spend as much time outdoors, they may become bored and restless. To avoid this, make sure to factor increased playtime into your day and ensure there are lots of things around the house for them to explore and play with.

If you’re unable to walk your dog due to self-quarantine, your first port of call should be to ask for help from a friend or family member. They could either call round to take your pet out for a daily walk or look after them while you’re isolating. Alternatively, you can arrange for them to be put into a shelter over this period.

If you have symptoms of the virus, you should avoid contact with your pets to avoid cross-contamination with other household members.

Veterinary care
As it currently stands, vets will not see any pets for routine appointments, vet care is now available for emergency treatment only. They will generally not conduct home visits unless absolutely necessary and have the right to refuse to treat any pet owners refusing to abide by social distancing rules.

To keep your pet safe in the meantime, be vigilant about what you leave around the house. For example, over Easter, ensure that dogs cannot get access to your stash of chocolate eggs and remain aware of things like houseplants and flowers as several supermarket varieties can be poisonous to cats. You can often get their standard worm and flea treatment online, if you’re unsure of what this is, it should say in your pet’s vet record card.  

Financial concerns and adoption
For the time being, many animal adoption centres including the RSPCA, Blue Cross and Dogs Trust are closed for adoptions which means that, if you find that you no longer have the means to care for your pet, they won’t be an option for the immediate future. Yet, that’s not to say that support isn’t available. There are still plenty of adoption centres that will try to arrange something for you if you contact them and explain your situation.

If you just need a temporary fix, try reaching out to a friend or family member to see if they can offer support until you get back on your feet and check social media marketplace pages for owners giving away unrequired pet food. You can also talk to your bank about a loan, there’s a lot of different options available for those affected financially by the pandemic. No matter how desperate the situation seems, help is available.