COVID-19 info: Our rehoming centres are not open for public browsing but you can still make an appointment to adopt or bring a dog to us. We’ve set up new processes which include social distancing measures to help keep staff and our visitors safe.

Advice for dog owners

If you’re wondering how to keep your dog happy and healthy at the moment, we’re here to help.

 

Some dogs will find it overwhelming having more people around and less time to themselves. So give your dog their own space and leave them alone when they’re in it.

Stick to a routine and build in regular playtime and alone time for your dog.

Coronavirus safety advice for dogs and dog owners

Can my dog catch COVID-19?

   

There’s no evidence that the virus responsible for COVID-19 can be passed from dogs to humans (or vice versa). The main source of infection is human-to-human transmission, and there is no current evidence to suggest your dog poses any significant risk to your health. But the virus could be passed from person to person via a dog’s fur, collar, lead, toys or food.

Should dogs be quarantined if their owners have coronavirus?

We are keeping a close eye on advice from the WSAVA and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and so far they’ve not said that pets should be quarantined. But if you’ve tested positive for Coronavirus or have symptoms, limit physical contact with your dog as much as possible, as hard as it may be. You also need to stay at home, so may need to arrange for someone else to walk your dog.

Should I wash my dog more often?

Don’t wash your dog any more than you usually would, as it could irritate their skin. Don’t use anti-bacterial gel or wipes on your dog either. After walks, wipe them down with a wet cloth and wash your hands afterwards.

How do I look after my dog if I’m unwell and self-isolating?

If you’ve tested positive for Coronavirus or have symptoms, limit physical contact with your dog as much as possible, as hard as it may be. If no-one else in your household is able to look after your dog, contact your friends, family or a neighbour to see if they can help. Local Authorities or community groups may be able to offer support, or contact local boarding kennels to see if they have space available.

How to get your dog used to people in face masks

Dogs are really good at reading our facial expressions to tell how we’re feeling, so they might be confused or concerned by seeing people in face masks. Teach them that masks are nothing to worry about, here's how

Walks

How often can I walk my dog? Can I walk my dog off lead?

Check how often you can walk your dog as rules are different in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Take care not to over-exercise your dog if they’re not used to it. 

You should keep two metres apart from anyone you don’t live with, so if your dog is likely to go up to other people or dogs, you may need to keep them on a lead. There may also be local restrictions which limit off lead walking. Don’t be afraid to ask people not to pet your dog. 

If your dog isn’t used to walking on the lead, keep them entertained with toys and treats while you’re out. More advice on lead training.

Remember to pick up after your dog and wash your hands thoroughly when you are back home.

Can I meet my friends and their dogs for a walk?

Yes, but avoid touching other people’s dogs if you can and wash your hands thoroughly when you get home. Government guidance on meeting others depends on where you are, so check www.gov.uk for more info.

Can I take my dog for a longer walk in the car?

Government guidelines also allow you to drive somewhere to exercise outdoors and take your dog with you – but in Wales and Scotland this must be within five miles of your home. 


In warm weather, never leave your dog in the car. More warm weather advice.

How can I keep lead walks interesting for my dog?

 

If your dog isn’t used to walking on the lead, keep them entertained with toys and treats while you’re out. More advice on lead training.

Take different routes so your dog can explore new sights and smells. Try adding training and other games into your walks - give your dog different tricks to do or get them to circle or jump over objects for a treat. More ideas to make walkies fun.

Someone else is walking my dog for me. How can I protect us both?

Ask the person walking your dog to collect them in an outdoor space, so you can stay two metres apart. You should clean and disinfect anything you touch, including leads, harnesses, vehicles and door handles, and wash your hands before and afterwards. Make up a spare walking pack with poo bags, treats and toys for your dog walker to hold on to, so you don’t need to give them everything each time. 

Make sure your dog’s collar is on securely and their tag and microchip details are up to date.

Professional dog walkers are allowed to work and have been advised to give priority to key workers, as well as shielded and vulnerable people.

Is it safe to walk my dog outside if I have been told to self-isolate?

If you’ve tested positive for Coronavirus or have symptoms, you need to stay at home. Otherwise, current Government guidance is that it’s okay to go outside for exercise and to walk your dog. To keep your distance from others you may wish to avoid busy areas or busy times and keep your dog on-lead.

Warm weather

 

Make sure your dog always has access to water and shade. Never leave them in a warm car. More advice for warm weather.

Looking after your dog

Indoor games

Your dog may have less opportunity to run around outside at the moment, so make sure they have regular playtime, training and enrichment sessions each day. Varying their games will help them to use their brains and noses as well as their bodies, and be fun for both of you. Here are some ideas:

  • Play their favourite game – catch, fetch and tug of war are all great fun to your dog.
  • Have a treasure hunt – hide treats around the house and see how quickly your dog can find them.
  • Teach them some new tricks with our Dog School training videos.
  • Make a snuffle mat.
Sleep and relaxation

If your dog’s used to sleeping during the day they might be losing out on vital sleep now that there are people at home all the time. Give your dog a quiet space of their own, like a bed or den, and when they’re in it, make sure the whole family knows to leave them alone. Teach your dog to settle so they’re comfortable relaxing on their own.

Food

Try to feed your dog as you normally would. Only introduce new foods if you have to and make changes gradually to avoid their stomach being upset. Don’t be tempted to give your pet extra titbits now that you are spending more time with them.

Make sure your dog always has easy access to clean, fresh water, adding extra bowls if needed. 

How to prevent separation anxiety

If your dog is used to being left alone while you're out, it's important to keep them used to time alone, so they’re prepared for the end of lockdown.  

Factor in time apart from your dog each day – for example leave your dog in another part of the house for periods of time whilst working from home, so they are not with you all the time. Try and leave them in the house alone when going for essential trips as well. This will help them cope better when everyone goes back to work or school.

More advice

Caring for a puppy

The first four months of a puppy’s life are vital for teaching them about the world. If you’ve recently got a new puppy, you need to make sure they learn about all the things they’ll encounter in life. Make sure you prepare your pup now for life after lockdown.

 

 

 

Dogs and children

Keeping dogs and children safe and happy together

 

Give your dog their own space and leave them alone when they’re in it. Tell children not to disturb them when they’re resting, sleeping or eating. Try using a child-gate or playpen so your dog can see you and stay connected to family activity. 

Create a routine. Make time for play, time for walks and time for your dog to rest. When the rest of the family are busy, give them a long-lasting treat or a puzzle toy to enjoy. Teach your dog to settle on their own, so they’re comfortable without your attention.

Vet care

Can I still take my dog to the vet?

If you’re worried about your dog’s health, call your vet for advice. Many are offering phone and video call appointments, to limit face-to-face contact.

Can I get my puppy neutered?

Neutering isn’t usually considered an emergency so most vets won’t be doing those operations at the moment. Speak to your vet about making an appointment when normal services start back up again.

What do I do if I need help with vet bills?

PDSA or RSPCA may be able to help, take a look at their websites for more info.

Giving up your dog

I’m struggling to look after my dog, what should I do?

We know that times can get tough, and circumstances can change. If you’re thinking you may need to give your dog up for adoption, then please call us on 0300 303 2188 or contact us via our form. We’re here to help you make the right decision for your dog. More information about giving up your dog