Coronavirus updates and advice for concerned pet owners


Advice on coronavirus and pets and what you should do if you have the virus.

Updates around Covid-19 are changing regularly and pet owners are concerned about whether the virus may affect their pets.

We’ve put together some advice from the World Health Organisation for Animal Health and The British Veterinary Association around Covid-19 and pets. Their advice can change regularly, but was accurate up to 15th April 2020.

Can pets catch coronovirus?

The World Organisation for Animal Health advises that some cats, dogs and ferrets have tested positive for Covid-19.

However these are limited cases occurring after close contact with a Covid-19 infected person.

There is also evidence that infected cats can pass the virus onto other cats, and infected ferrets can pass the virus to other ferrets. This was established in a laboratory setting.

Poultry and pigs do not appear to be susceptible to the virus, according to evidence so far.

It’s advised that you wash your hands before and after touching your pet and if you’re exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19 you should try to avoid close contact with your pet.

Regular hand washing before and after handling your pet is always a good idea, as this helps prevent the transmission of other diseases such as salmonella and E-coli, if present.

Could my pet pass coronavirus to me?

The British Veterinary Association President, Daniella Dos Santos said that the current advice from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) is that the main route of transmission is human to human, and that pets can’t spread the virus to humans.

Daniella commented: “There have been a tiny number of cases of Covid-19 in animals and in all cases, it is likely that the transmission was human to animal. There is no evidence that pets can pass Covid-19 to their owners.”

She continues with “as a precaution for pet owners who have Covid-19 or who are self isolating we are recommending that you keep your cat indoors if possible, during that time”.

What if I have coronavirus and I have a pet?

If you suspect you have Covid-19 or it has been confirmed then you should take the following precautions:

  • The BVA advise that you should avoid close contact with your pet, wash your hands before and after touching your pet. If possible wear a face mask if near your pet. Until more is known about the virus you should practice these measures.
  • Cat owners should try to keep their cat indoors, unless it causes distress to them.
  • If you own a dog, try to get someone to walk it for you. However, be aware that the virus could be present on its fur, so the dog walker will need to wash their hands before and after handling your pet. It’s a good idea to be aware of this environmental contamination with all pets at this time. Remember, there’s no evidence at this time that pets can pass the virus to humans.
  • If your pet shows any signs of the virus, then contact your vet for advice. They’ll need to know that the virus is present in your household.
  • The guidance from is very clear. If you have symptoms of coronavirus you should stay at home for 7 days, and people living with you should self isolate for 14 days. have published guidance for pet owners and owners of livestock, on what they should do if they have coronavirus.

Exotic pet insurance and coronavirus

Pets insured with us will be covered exactly the same way as always.

However, because of the current situation we understand that getting routine vaccinations or dental checks will be much harder. So, if you’re unable to get these done because your vet practice is closed or only treating emergencies, it won’t affect your policy.

Don’t forget to get these procedures done once your practice offers them again, as your usual policy Terms and Conditions around vaccinations and dental checks will then resume.

Also, if you’re about to buy a policy with us, but someone in your house is suffering with coronavirus, you don’t need to tell us. This won’t affect your policy at all.

If you need to submit a claim, this can be done online. However our processes regarding paper claims has changed. You can find out more in our article How are ExoticDirect are handling Covid-19

Visiting a vet at this time

Most vets have closed their doors to non emergency patients, and you’ll need to phone your vet with any concerns you have about your pet.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the Veterinary Association have provided guidance to vets on how to categorise patients. The concern over missing vaccinations and not neutering pets over the long term has also been acknowledged. You can find out more in our article: Visiting a vet during the coronavirus outbreak.

Tamara Labelle
29 Apr 2020

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