Golden labrador lying in dog bed with two black kittens

How to avoid a vet trip during lockdown

Coronavirus stay at home measures mean vet practices across the UK are now running services remotely by phone and online, limiting face to face consultations to emergencies only, as advised by government. 

While your vet may be currently closed to all but emergencies, if your pet appears unwell it is still worth seeking their advice. Never give medicines meant for humans to pets some can be very dangerous – paracetamol, for example, is highly toxic to cats.

During the coronavirus lockdown, it’s even more important to try and prevent your pet needing an emergency trip to the vet. Here are our top tips of dangers to avoid:

Road accidents  

Even if your dog has excellent recall, roads are dangerous places for off-lead dogs. Government measures mean owners must keep their dogs two metres away from other dogs and people. In busy areas where you are likely to come across other people and dogs, keeping them on a lead will help you to follow social distancing. Order a long length lead if needed, but only use it in open spaces to avoid traffic, lampposts, cyclists and other people.

Upset tummies and blockages

Be vigilant when on walks and make sure your dog does not eat any thrown away takeaway food - especially bones, including knuckles and ribs which can cause obstructions and require surgery. 

Cut paw pads 

Look out for any broken glass when walking your dog to avoid nasty cuts to their pads.

Getting into fights 

While out and about, keep your dog away from other dogs. 

If your cat tends to fight with other cats, try to keep them away from other cats in the neighbourhood. Keep cat flaps closed if need be, and consider supervising your cat while in the garden to keep them separated from other cats who might visit. 

It’s a good idea to keep cats indoors overnight to avoid them getting into a fight with another cat or injured in a road traffic accident.


Cleaning products

At this time when many of us are at home we are likely to want to tidy and clean, but it is important to remember many cleaning products are highly toxic to pets. Cats in particular will lick their paws and fur almost immediately if they feel unclean. 

It’s essential not to let pets walk across floors or worktops that have been disinfected until the surface is completely dry, and make sure they don’t go anywhere near cleaning buckets and products.

Likewise, hand sanitiser should be treated like any other product and not be transferred on to a pet’s fur. When pets wash any kind of toxic substance off their fur, they can potentially burn their mouth, tongue or throat. It’s always better to exercise caution and keep all cleaning and sanitation products safely away. 

Plants and flowers

Lilies are popular spring flowers but are highly toxic to cats, who can easily brush pollen onto their fur and absorb it while cleaning themselves. Make sure there are none in a vase, as a houseplant or in the garden. Likewise, daffodils are dangerous to dogs.

Food and drink

Many human foods are also dangerous to pets. Keep Easter chocolate well away from dogs who can soon become very poorly if they eat it. Other common foods which can be toxic to pets include garlic, onion, raisins and grapes. 

Alcohol is toxic to pets, so keep this where it can’t be knocked off a shelf and away from opportune drinkers!

Ponds and lakes

Do not let dogs jump into water which may contain dangerous blue-green algae. 

Parasite prevention

Make sure you have enough supply of flea and worm prevention treatment and keep up to date to avoid your pet picking up any nasty unwanted visitors. 

Springtime can be a particularly bad time of year for dogs to pick up lungworm – an often-fatal illness caused when they eat, lick or absorb slugs or snails which carry the disease. Sometimes slugs are very tiny so regularly wash their toys, especially if left in the garden or taken on walks. Make sure you have enough medication for the next month too, to avoid making several trips to the shops. 

Open windows and balconies

For cat owners living on floors above ground level it is important to keep windows closed or fix secure barriers along the window so that cats aren’t tempted to rest on windowsills or balconies.

It is a common misconception that cats won’t fall from an open window and they will right themselves and land uninjured if they were to fall. Blue Cross animal hospitals have taken in many, many injured cats who have fallen from an open window and broken their legs or worse. This is especially important as the weather starts to warm up and most of us are spending much of our time indoors – especially those without a garden.


It is important for pets to continue to have regular exercise and keep to their usual diet. Everyone social distancing can go outside to exercise once a day, including to walk their dog, and each member of the household can walk them once a day but make sure you and your dog keep at least two metres away from others when outdoors.

Keeping pets entertained if they aren’t going out as much is a good idea. If playing a game of fetch, use a soft toy to avoid harming your pet – and your furniture. Avoid playing games on slippery floors too to prevent an accident. 

If your pet is due to have their boosters or first inoculations, call your vet to see if this can be postponed. If your pet is unvaccinated, has had an incomplete primary course or is out of date for their booster they may not be fully protected so should be kept away from public areas. If your pet is affected by this, take a look at ideas for indoor play and exercise. 

— Page last updated 07/01/2021

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