Two guinea pigs sitting together

Small pets and coronavirus (Covid-19)

It is rare for animals to catch Covid-19. 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 rodents and ferrets. Mustelinae mammals, such as ferrets, can also catch new variants of the virus and spread these between their own species. As a precaution, you should:

  • wash your hands with soap before and after any contact with your small pet or ferret, its food and housing
  • avoid sharing food with your pet
  • 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 pet controls the spread of the virus and you must only use products that are made for pets if you do decide to wash them.

What is coronavirus?

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.

Some common human symptoms are a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. Find out more on the NHS website.

Does my pet need to be vaccinated against Covid-19?

Although there have been media reports of a Covid-19 vaccine for animals, this is not currently available. It also is not 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.

How do I protect my small pet from coronavirus?

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 small pet with no help, then wash your hands before and after touching them.

It’s also good practice to keep your pet’s food and litter areas clean. Keeping your small pet mentally stimulated with enrichment ideas will keep active minds busy, too.

What if I think my pet has Covid-19?

If you’re concerned about your small pet because they are unwell, you should contact your vet who will decide if they need to be tested or need any treatment.

Can I take my pet to the vet if I have Covid-19?

If you have Covid-19 and your pet needs urgent care, always contact your vet by telephone first. They may be able to rearrange your appointment or be happy for someone else to bring them in for any examinations or treatment.

Ferret keepers register

If you have a pet ferret, you can register them with the ferret keepers register

Ferrets are particularly susceptible to Covid-19. By registering your pet ferrets, you can be given update on any relevant information or outbreaks of disease in ferrets.

Page details


• 27 February 2023

Next review

• 26 February 2026

Approved by
Róisín Bolger

Veterinary Surgeon MRCVS