Dalmatian dog lying on back of sofa on windowsill looking sad

Coronavirus and dogs

Our coronavirus information on this page is written in line with guidelines issued by the Westminster government for England. If you live in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, you may have to follow additional restrictions. Our advice is a guide for pet owners and should not be taken as legal advice.

Government guidance states that it is rare for animals to catch coronavirus. If they do contract the virus, they often only show mild symptoms and are better within a few days.

There is evidence that coronavirus can pass from infected humans to animals, including dogs. As a precaution, you should:

  • wash your hands with soap before and after any contact with your dog, their food and bedding (avoid hand sanitisers or wipes that could harm your pet)
  • avoid sharing food with your dog
  • avoid contact such as kissing or cuddling if you’re self-isolating

Your pet’s fur can act as a carrier for Covid-19 like other surfaces. But there is no evidence that washing your dog controls the spread of the virus and you must only use products that are made for pets if you do decide to wash them.

Frequently asked questions

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause disease in animals.

Covid-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that, like seven other strains throughout history, is thought to have made the jump from animals to humans.

The most common human symptoms are a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

If you think you may have coronavirus, follow the latest government advice found on the NHS website.

Although there have been media reports of an Covid-19 vaccine for animals, this is not currently available. It also isn’t clear whether this would significantly stop the spread of coronavirus in the community. 

Instead, you should follow good hygiene routines including washing your hands before and after any contact with your pet, their food and bedding.

If you have Covid-19, then ideally, you should restrict contact with pets and other animals ie no kissing, cuddling or stroking.

If you have sole responsibility of your dog with no help, then be sure to wash your hands before and after touching them.

If you’re concerned about your dog because they have respiratory or digestive problems and a temperature, you should contact your vet who will decide if they need to be tested or need any treatment.

Yes, you can walk your dog.

If you have been told to self-isolate you should ask someone outside of your household who is not self-isolating to walk your dog for you. You can also ask any dog walking services provided by a professional.

You can also help your dog through isolation with these fun games while you’re stuck inside.

People who have symptoms of coronavirus are asked to stay at home and not leave at all for a period of 10 days from when their symptoms started. Those that live in a household with someone who has symptoms of coronavirus must stay at home for 14 days from when the first person in the household became ill.

Government advice currently states that if you are self-isolating and cannot exercise your dog at home, you should ask someone who does not live in your household and who is not self-isolating to walk your dog for you.

If you have no one to walk your dog, then they can’t go for a walk as you will need to self-quarantine, but they can go out in the garden for toilet breaks. If you don’t have a garden you can take them to just outside your home to go to the loo, but make sure to stay well away from others and minimise your time outside. If you are well enough, you can keep them entertained within the home with some great indoor games for dogs.

If you are self-isolating and your dog needs urgent care always speak to your vet. They may be able to re-arrange your appointment or be happy for someone outside your household to bring in your dog for any examinations or treatment.

If your dog is becoming a distraction while you are trying to work and, to avoid them becoming too clingy while you are at home, it’s a good idea to pop them in another room to rest for periods during the day. Or, if you have a baby gate, to have them in another room where they can still see you but where you aren’t tempted to fuss or play with them. 

Giving them a Kong or a food puzzle when they’re away from you, is a great way to keep them mentally stimulated and to encourage them to feel positive about not being in your company.

You may also want to put pets in another room if you have a planned video or phone meeting where they may distract you or insist on blocking the screen.

As many of us are still spending more time at home, we may notice changes in our dogs' behaviour. This could be because our pets' routine has changed, or we could be picking up on existing behaviours we haven't spotted before.

Changes in behaviour can often be a sign of a medical problem so give your vet a call first before speaking to a behaviourist. If you need advice from a behaviourist, call our Behaviour Helpline on 0300 777 1975.

We will continue to update this advice as information changes. Keep checking back for the latest updates.

— Page last updated 25/01/2022