Vets lament ‘severe blow for animal welfare’ as MPs vote against Agriculture Bill amendment on import standards
12-Oct-2020 | Animal health
We know, as a pet owner, you may be concerned about how to keep your pets safe and healthy during the coronavirus outbreak. Working with many animal health organisations we’ve produced guidance to support you to keep your pets safe and healthy at this time.
Please always call your veterinary practice first to arrange the best approach to meet your pet’s needs at this time.
Throughout the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK many vet practices have remained open to provide essential care to protect the health and welfare of animals and support the food supply chain. Most vet practices are currently open and adapting to provide a more normal range of services whilst protecting the safety of pet owners and the veterinary team.
Veterinary practices will be risk assessing each case using their professional and clinical judgement to assess whether in-person treatment is required, or whether services could be provided remotely. Remote services, such as teleconsultations, may also be charged for.
Within a local lockdown area veterinary practices can remain open but are asked to observe strict social distancing measures. Practices will need to use their clinical and professional judgement on a case by case basis and may not be able to see your animal immediately.
As with all aspects of life during the Covid-19 pandemic, you should follow social distancing measures when interacting with your veterinary surgery. This may mean you need to wait in the car and allow your vet to assess your pet alone. Your veterinary surgery will be able to offer you advice on the social distancing measures they have put in place. Vets will be working in line with national and devolved legislation and local guidance to keep you and their teams safe.
If you’re a member of the public, you must wear a face covering in veterinary practices by law in England, Scotland, and Wales, unless you’re exempt for age, health, or equality reasons. More information is available on the UK government website.
In Northern Ireland, the use of face coverings is mandatory on public transport only. It is strongly advised that you should think about using face coverings in circumstances - short periods in enclosed spaces - where social distancing is not possible.
Vets are working hard to balance animal health and welfare, public health, your safety and the safety of their teams. We’re asking the public to respect their veterinary teams and understand that they are doing their very best in difficult circumstances.
Vets will risk assess each case to decide when vaccinations need to go ahead. These assessments will vary across the country due to local disease risks. They will also vary between clients due to individual circumstances.
We’re asking all animal owners to respect their vets’ clinical and professional judgement and be patient during this time. Read our statement on respecting your vet team during Covid-19.
As we change our behaviour during this coronavirus lockdown, animals can be affected too. This guidance on recognising changes in your pet’s behaviour will help you to identify behavioural changes and outline steps you can take to help your pet cope. There is also specific guidance for kitten owners and puppy owners.
Thanks to Sarah Heath FRCVS, Daniel Mills FRCVS, Lorella Notari MRCVS, and Rachel Casey MRCVS, recognised specialists in behavioural medicine, for producing this guidance.
There is currently no definitive evidence that pets can pass Covid-19 to their owners. According to the OIE, the current spread of Covid-19 is a result of human-to-human transmission, and, to date, there is no reason to conclude that companion animals can spread the disease. The OIE states that there is a possibility for some animals to become infected through close contact with infected humans.
From the small number of cases it appears that dogs do not show symptoms, but cats can show clinical signs of the disease.
The virus responsible for Covid-19 was detected in a pet cat in England in July, the first such known case in the UK, following tests at the APHA laboratory in Weybridge. The government has emphasised that all available evidence suggests that the cat contracted the coronavirus from its owners, who had previously tested positive for Covid-19. The cat and its owners have since made a full recovery and no other animals or people in the household were affected.
There continues to be no evidence that infected pets can pass Covid-19 to their owners, and there is no evidence to suggest that companion animals that have been infected by humans are playing a role in the spread of Covid-19 back to humans.
It is also the case that animals may act as fomites, as the virus could be on their fur for a short period of time in the same way it is on other surfaces, such as tables and doorknobs. That’s why our main advice for animal owners continues to be to practise good hand hygiene by washing your hands thoroughly (for 20 seconds with soap and water) after touching your pet.
The OIE recommends that people who are sick with Covid-19 limit contact with companion and other animals until more information is known about the virus. Read the OIE Questions and answers on the novel Coronavirus in full.
Government advice is that owners of pets in households with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, who think their pet may need veterinary treatment, should make contact with the practice first and alert them to the household’s status. Read the Defra Covid-19 advice for people with animals.
We've joined forces with some of the nation's best-loved national pet charities and experts to help pet owners find the right advice.
The group has produced tips and advice on how to look after your pets while you protect yourself during the coronavirus outbreak.
The advice includes:
We encourage you to share the graphics across your networks using #ComfortInCrisis.
The CFSG has also put together advice for dog walkers with further information on the cases when you should continue walking someone else's dog and what measures you can put in place to protect yourself and your pet.