Companion animals and COVID-19: Useful tips
During this time of global crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic, we have put together some useful tips to make the best out of the situation at home with your family and especially with your companion animal(s). These tips will help to keep both you and your companion animal(s) both mentally and physically healthy and happy while you stay at home during self-quarantine.
Latest update (28 July 2020)
You may have recently seen the news of a cat testing positive for COVID-19 in the UK. This was the first instance of a positive test for an animal in the UK. However, the evidence shows that the cat was in fact infected by the owner.
There remains no evidence that cats or dogs are a risk to people, but people can pose a risk to their companion animals. Please remember to practice good hygiene by washing your hands before and after handling your companion animals. This will help protect your companion animals from COVID-19 infection, whilst also maintaining good hygiene for your own welfare.
Update (22 May 2020)
Although there continue to be rumors and misinformation about your pets giving you COVID-19, these remain unsubstantiated and untrue.
Read up on the latest blog post from the ICAM coalition that provides all the details and evidence demonstrating that you are more of a risk to your pets than they are to you.
Update (21 April 2020)
The latest hype in the media is based on a recent publication about the potential for COVID-19 to replicate in the intestines of dogs. This is one of many theories that are being explored based on genetic data. However, there is no direct evidence to support the roles of dogs in the origin or current transmission of COVID-19.
"There is no actual evidence of dogs as the origin, or that dogs are playing any role in current virus transmission" - ICAM coalition
Unfortunately, this misinterpretation of data has resulted in many people initiating the inhumane culling of dogs and has resulted in a general fear of dogs in their communities.
ICAM emphasises that there is no evidence of SARS-CoV-2 transmission risk from stray dogs to people and this in no way justifies stray dog removal or culling.
Please continue good hygiene practices when interacting with any person or animal during these trying times by thoroughly washing your hands and simply avoiding any unnecessary contact (with people and dogs).
Please remember that currently, people pose a greater risk to companion animals than companion animals do to people. Therefore, if you are infected with COVID-19, try to minimise risk with other people, as well as your companion animal.
For a more detailed response, please visit our partners at ICAM
Update (09 April 2020)
You may have seen some headlines from BBC news about keeping your cats indoors. Please note that these headlines misquoted expert organisations such as the British Veterinary Association.
The latest statement from the ICAM coalition states the following:
"There is no evidence animal fur acts as a fomite (object or material that is likely to carry infection) for transmission of any virus, including COVID-19, to people. There is no need to restrict your outdoor cats, they are not bringing the virus into your house."
The British Veterinary Association clarifies the misquoted statement with the following information:
"Only cats from infected households or where their owners are self-isolating, and only if the cat is happy to be kept indoors. Some cats cannot stay indoors due to stress-related medical reasons."
Read the "3 P's" of getting through quarantine with your pet: Plan, Play, Pamper.
Prepare for yourself, your family and for your companion animal(s) with these useful tips before going into home quarantine.
Also keep these in mind when doing your grocery shopping during the quarantine period.
Tip 1: Remember food, toys, treats, medications and potentially litter for your animals
- Remember when purchasing food that your companion animal(s) will also need food. Add food to the shopping list. Also consider additional toys and treats for stimulation. Remember to get a bit more medication if your companion animal(s) need(s) it.
- If you live in an apartment, remember to get litter or sand, as your companion animal(s) will be housebound with you (if strict quarantine measures are in place).
- Inquire at your local pet supply store to determine if they are open or have a home delivery option available.
Tip 2: Get emergency information and contact details from your closest Veterinary clinic
Contact your local veterinarian to get their schedule and policy during the quarantine period, including emergency hours in case something happens to your companion animal(s).
Tip 3: Consider adopting
If you do not have a companion animal, consider fostering or adopting an animal from the shelter or pound.
Remember, these animals also need love and care, and with the quarantine measures in place, the amount of interaction they may receive will be far less than normal.
People who are sick with COVID-19 must limit contact with their companion animal(s). Remember, at the moment, humans are more of a risk to their companion animal(s) than the other way around!
Maintain good hygiene practices including washing of hands before and after interacting with your companion animal(s) – this should not be any different from your daily life without COVID-19.
Play and stimulate
Because your companion animal(s) will likely not be getting their usual stimulation during the day through walks and outdoor activities, they will become bored - just like us. Here are some tips to keep everyone entertained.
Bored animals (and people) can become destructive and naughty.
To keep order in your house, make sure that everyone is well stimulated through fun and interactive activities. This will help to keep both the children and the companion animal(s) entertained.
Tip 1: Get exercise
If allowed by your local council, walk your dog every day. It provides exercise both for you and your dog. Playing fetch outside might not be advisable at this time.
Tip 2: Make eating mentally stimulating
Make handing out treats a mind game by playing hide and seek. Treats can be hidden inside toys or in boxes where they can be found. This is also applicable for their normal food.
Tip 3: Make the house an adventure
Make every walking space in your house an adventure by creating an obstacle course for your companion animal(s). This will also unleash your own creativity and save you from boredom. Use everyday materials such as empty cereal boxes, chairs and bedding. You can even use the toilet paper rolls if you have the luxury to do so.
Tip 4: Teach an old dog new tricks!
“Sit. Roll. Stay.” Teach your dog tricks – old dogs can learn new tricks, with a little patience and interaction.
Tip 5: Enjoy nature
After all that exercise, cool off by nature-watching to appreciate the beauty around you. This can be done from within your own home, making it safe, socially responsible and eco-friendly too.
Tip 6: Share with your friends
Take photos or videos of you and your companion animal(s) to spread happiness to your friends and family. Whether they sleep on your desk or do crazy things in the house! This will help to keep everyone entertained.
Reinforce those close bonds that you have created with your companion animal(s). Pampering, relaxing and enjoying time together will be good for both you and them!
Tip 1: Spa day!
Have a spa day for your companion that can include bath time, brushing and grooming.
Tip 2: Relax
If all fails and you are feeling lazy, just practice the art of doing nothing and snuggle with your companion animal(s).
Most importantly, we must all stay safe. Look after yourselves, your friends, family and companion animal(s). By being responsible and safe, we can get through this challenge!
If you are looking to have the best knowledge about primary animal healthcare for your companion animal, become certified with our free online courses.
Looking for more pet-care information?
Looking after your companion animal is important. Explore our resources section and get some helpful information about primary animal healthcare targeted to any audience, ranging from fun children's materials to adult-focused awareness materials.
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Useful links and references:
For an official statement from the ICAM coalition (of which GARC is a member), follow this link:
Information from the World Organisation for Animal Health:
Information from the World Health Organization:
Statement from World Small Animals Veterinary Association:
Andrew T B Edney 1995. Companion animals and human health: an overview. Journal of the Royal Society of Medecine.