Everything you need to know about keeping your pet active during Covid-19

The UK government’s new measures to tackle Covid-19 state that we must only go out when absolutely necessary and only once a day for exercise.

But how does this apply to pet owners? Are dogs only allowed out once a day? Do cats have to stay inside?

Below, we answer some of the questions pet owners are asking about exercising their pets under current restrictions.

How often can I walk my dog?

The most recent government advice is that people should only leave their homes if absolutely necessary (for example, to travel to work if they are key workers or to buy essential groceries). Otherwise, we have been urged to only leave home once a day for exercise. This appears to mean you can only take your dog for a walk once a day. If there is more than one person in your house then they can take your dog with them during their daily period of exercise. When your dog needs to do the toilet at other times during the day you should take them no further than your garden or right outside your home if you don’t have a garden.

Can my cat go outside?

Cats from infected or self-isolating households should be kept indoors as a precaution, and only if the cat is happy to be kept indoors. Some cats cannot stay indoors due to stress-related medical reasons. Contrary to some inaccurate reports in the media, vets are NOT advising that all cats be kept indoors during the Covid-19 pandemic. Find out more here.

Although there is no evidence that pets can play a role in the spread of this disease to humans, it’s always best practice to maintain good hygiene. Remember to always wash your hands thoroughly before and after interacting with them, their food or their belongings. Kissing pets or allowing them to lick your face is not recommended in any circumstances.

Image of a cat and dog standing on the grass for Vets Now article on exercising your pets during the coronavirus outbreak

Can I walk my dog if I have symptoms of coronavirus?

If you have symptoms of coronavirus you and your dog should stay inside for seven days if you live by yourself or 14 days if you live with others. You should not go out to walk your dog. Instead, you should find ways to entertain them indoors. When your dog needs to do the toilet you should take them no further than your garden or right outside your house if you don’t have a garden.

According to the government , someone else from outside your household can walk your dog for you if you are self-isolating or being shielded. They should remember to wash their hands before and after handling your dog and keep two metres away from other people and animals while walking. This includes when collecting and returning them to you.

Can I stroke other dogs?

You should avoid contact with other owners and dogs when walking your dog and you should not stroke other people’s dogs. If you do touch someone else’s dog you should wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.