How to look after your pet during the coronavirus outbreak.

Last updated: 27-07-20

Latest news and updates on the coronavirus outbreak and how it could affect our pets, and our ability to care for them. Our colleagues at Idexx Laboratories – a world leader in veterinary science – have provided the following advice based on the latest information available.

What is Coronavirus (Covid-19)?

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people who contract COVID-19 will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring specialist treatment. Elderly people, and those with underlying medical problems are more likely to develop more serious symptoms.

The best way to prevent and slow down the spread of coronavirus is to protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol-based rub frequently and not touching your face. You should also follow government advice on social distancing and self-isolation.

Can pets catch and spread Coronavirus?

On the 27th July the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer has confirmed that the virus responsible for COVID-19 has been detected in a pet cat in the UK, with the virus being detected after tests on Wednesday 22 July.

While this is the first confirmed case of an animal infection with the coronavirus strain in the UK, there is no evidence to suggest that the animal was involved in transmission of the disease to its owners or that pets or other domestic animals are able to transmit the virus to people. As far as all the scientific evidence can show us, this is a virus that is transmitted from person to person.

It is a very rare event with infected animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within in a few days.

This latest case has been reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health in line with international commitments. There have been a very small number of confirmed cases in pets in other countries in Europe, North America and Asia.

How was the diagnosis confirmed?

The pet cat concerned was initially diagnosed by a private vet with feline herpes virus, a common cat respiratory infection, but the sample was also tested for SARS-CoV-2 as part of a research programme. Follow-up samples confirmed the cat was also co-infected with SARS-CoV2 which is the virus known to cause COVID-19 in humans.

How should I interact with my pet?

If no one in the house is self-isolating or showing any symptoms and your pets are healthy then continue with your usual routine. It is fine to stroke your pets, let them sleep with you and have your cat on your lap.

Do I need to change my interaction with pets if I’m self-isolating?

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or if you or any member of your household has come into contact with an infected person or has any symptoms of the coronavirus then it would be sensible to be more cautious.

All available evidence regarding the new confirmed case of Covid-19 in a cat is that the cat contracted the coronavirus from its owners who had previously tested positive for COVID-19. The advice from Public Health England is for people to wash their hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.

Please see latest government guidance for further details on interacting with your pets.

Is it ok for my pets to go outside?

If your cat normally goes outside, then the latest advice is to stop this if possible. Routine works well for cats and where feasible keep this going to reduce stress.

Households with two or more adults can each walk their dog, giving the dog extra exercise.
During the dog walk please remember the advice from the health authorities; you must avoid others and stay at least two metres (around three steps) away from anyone you encounter. Wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you get back.

Dogs can be sensitive and easily pick up on your stresses and worries so try to keep to your normal routines if possible.

What if my pet needs veterinary treatment?

If either your cat or dog becomes unwell in any way during this outbreak and you think they may need veterinary attention, then the advice is still to contact your own vet. Most vets are now operating normally within social distancing guidelines, however some may be operating a reduced service or triage on a case by case basis. There should still be availability in your area if its needed.

If you already have pet insurance, then you’ll be aware that keeping your pet’s vaccinations up to date is a key responsibility of yours. However, if you are unable to have your pet’s annual or booster vaccinations carried out due to these not being performed by your vet who is following the latest BVA guidance then we will waive this requirement.

In the event of a claim this waiver would apply on the basis that the vaccinations were previously up to date. The vaccinations should be obtained as soon as possible once the restrictions are removed to ensure that pet is fully covered and for their welfare.

If you need any further advice, or want to chat through anything, regarding your cat or dog’s health during Covid-19 then the Scratch & Patch Careline is available 24/7 to assist. Call 0333 332 1926 or chat online with the team. Please ensure that you have your insurance policy number upon calling.

Helpful links and resources

Advice for Scratch & Patch members

Due to government restrictions and to keep staff safe we have reduced opening hours in our administration centre.

To contact the Scratch & Patch administration team please email us or request a call back. For full details please see our contact page.

If you have requested duplicate plan documents, please be aware that they will be subject to delays because of reduced postal services caused by Coronavirus.

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