Coronavirus: Animal Health
We are frequently updating our website with advice to animal owners and farmers to help during the cornavirus pandemic.
Frequently Asked Questions – Companion Animals (last updated 8.12.20)
These FAQ’s have been compiled by members of the National Animal Health and Welfare Panel. At all times, consideration MUST be given to the public health advice released by Government.
Animals with coronavirus
It’s rare for an animal to contract coronavirus, and they tend to show only mild symptoms and recover within a few days.
Limited evidence available at present suggests that coronavirus:
- may pass from infected humans to certain pets such as cats and ferrets following close contact
- Does not easily pass between cats or most other pets, but this cannot be ruled out
- may pass between ferrets and humans based on the evidence from mink infections
In line with public health guidance, you should:
- wash your hands before and after any contact with your pet, its food and bedding
- not share food with your pet
- avoid contact such as kissing or cuddling if you are self-isolating.
There is no evidence that you need to wash your pets to control the spread of coronavirus.Only wash or use products on your pets that are approved for use on animals.
If you own a ferret
If you own a ferret, you must isolate it for 21 days if:
- you or your household are self-isolating
- you’ve brought your ferret to the UK from a country not on the travel corridor list
Isolation means avoiding contact with either ferrets or people from other households. If your ferret needs emergency veterinary care, you can arrange to have it taken to the vet but you should notify them of the situation.
Can an animal breeder continue with their business?
The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020 No. 353 (80)) details the prescribed restrictions in place as part of the Governments response to tackle Coronavirus.Regulation 6 (2) requires that a person responsible for carrying on a business business, not listed in Part 4 of Schedule 1, of offering goods for sale or for hire in a shop must cease to carry on that business or to provide that service.It is advised that all breeders should consider the necessity to continue with their breeding programme over the next 6 months, where they have limited opportunity to sell animals.The owners of the animals will always have a duty of care and legal responsibility under the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 for the welfare of their animals, which would include any offspring.
They should take appropriate steps to cease trading if they cannot maintain the welfare needs of any animal under their control during this time.Cross border sales regularly take place and the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018:486) makes it a requirement that the mother must be seen with a kitten or a puppy at the point of sale.
Welsh breeders may therefore be asked to see the parents of the puppy and as such it is considered that to avoid potential welfare problems with the sale of these animals from breeders during the emergency response and the need for social distancing, video footage is shared by the breeder of the offspring with their mother prior to the sale.With regards the movement restrictions, it is considered that as breeders are not listed as a business referred to in Part 4 of Schedule 1 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020, they should deliver any puppies or kittens that they are selling to the buyers directly as they are permitted to travel for the purposes of work (Regulation 8 (2) (f) ) and this is in spirit of the principals of Regulation 6 (2) (a).Where a breeder does undertake delivery, it is considered that they will be caught by the rules relating to the Welfare of Animals in Transport EU Regulation 1/2005 and it is advised that they seek authorisation with the APHA Welfare of Animals in Transport Team (WIT).
Pet shops are listed at Paragraph 43 of Part 4 of Schedule 1 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020, as such they may continue to be open to the public and operate. However, it is considered that any journey whose primary purpose is solely for the purchase of a pet animal would be a breach of the movements restrictions in place during the emergency response as it is not essential travel.
Can a person attend to their horse?
Yes, it is considered that as the owner or keeper of an animal, there is a statutory duty of care with regards Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, as such, taking into consideration this legal obligation, this is permitted in accordance with Regulation 8 (2) (h) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020.
Can a person ride their horse?
Yes, it is considered that subject to this being part of the daily exercise referred to in Regulation 8 (2) (b) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020, this is permitted.
Are Riding Stables now allowed to give lessons?
As advised by the British Horse Society, it is considered that subject to compliance with travel restrictions and social distancing measures remaining in place, 1-2-1 riding lessons are now permissible. Further detailed guidance can be found on the British Horse Society website.
Can home boarders exceed their licence to care for animals of key workers?
It is considered that this is a matter to be determined at a local level based upon prior history of the business and their level of previous compliance. There is a need to be mindful of the welfare implications to the animals under the charge of the home boarder and home boarders should prioritise the care of those animals who belong to key workers should this become an issue. Where a home boarder is not able to sufficiently protect the interest of the animals under their charge, alternative care arrangements must be sourced.
Can a rescue centre still rehome animals?
It is considered that a rescue centre, regardless of if it is a registered charity, is still operating as a business, albeit in the rehoming of animals.With regards the movement restrictions, it is considered that as a rescue centre is not listed as a business referred to in Part 4 of Schedule 2 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020, they should deliver any animals that they are being rehomed as they are permitted to travel for the purposes of work (Regulation 8 (2) (f) ) and this is in the spirit of the principals of Regulation 6 (2) (a).Where a rehoming centre does undertake delivery, they will be caught by the rules relating to the Welfare of Animals in Transport EU Regulation 1/2005 and it is advised that they seek authorisation with the APHA Welfare of Animals in Transport Team (WIT).
It is advised that any required home inspection is evidenced through video footage provided to the rescue centre rather than a home visit and no person should be visiting a rescue centre to choose a new pet for re-homing as it is considered that this movement would be in breach of regulation 8 and the restrictions on movement.
Can licences required as part of the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963 be extended where they are due for renewal within the next 3 months?
The Welsh Animal Health Panel and Welsh Government have agreed that a 3 month dispensation be applied to any forthcoming licence renewals.
Can dog groomers still operate?
Advice has been sourced from the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) with regards this, and it is agreed that at present, the earlier advice offered by the NAHWP was correct.Yes – dog groomers can continue to operate. The business is not subject to the closure restrictions as detailed in the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020, as such they can continue operating.With regards the movement restrictions, it is considered that as a dog groomer is not listed as a business referred to in Part 2 of Schedule 1, they should collect and deliver any animals that are being taken to a salon for grooming as they are permitted to travel for the purposes of work (Regulation 8 (2) (f) ) and this is in the spirit of the principals of Regulation 6 (2) (a) for otherwise providing services.Where a dog groomer does undertake transportation, it is considered that they will be caught by the rules relating to the Welfare of Animals in Transport EU Regulation 1/2005 and it is advised if the journey is over 65km (40 miles) that they seek authorisation with the APHA Welfare of Animals in Transport Team (WIT).
It is not permitted for a person to take their dog to a groomers by vehicle, however they may be able to walk to the business as part of their daily exercise. Likewise, dog groomers that are based in pet shops can also continue to operate, however travel for this would not permitted if the primary purpose is purely for the use of the dog grooming service. Mobile dog grooming is also considered eligible to continue trade subject to them following public health advice regarding social distancing. This should be considered on a case by case basis.
This journey would be permitted for the purposes of work Regulation 8 (2) (f) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020.
Can a person that does not require a licence for breeding have people collect puppies or deliver them?
No, as this is not a licensed breeder, it has been considered that as this is not for the purpose of work and therefore collection or delivery would not be permitted for the purposes Regulation 8 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020.
Is a Pet Shop licence required to sell poultry?
It is considered that as most people who will be buying poultry will do so for the purposes of egg production, then a licence is not required.
Should a person groom their own dog?
Intelligence suggests that a number of people have taken to buying pet grooming kits online in order to self-groom their pets due to movement restrictions resulting from Covid 19.
Dog grooming is not a regulated activity and as such, whilst anyone can undertake this role, it is advised that for animal welfare reasons, only a person with appropriate skill and training should groom an animal.
Dog groomers are permitted to operate, and advice has been provided relating to this in these FAQ’s. Where the services of a dog groomer cannot be obtained from a person’s usual service provider, it is suggested that they try to find an alternative service provider that has the relevant experience and training to avoid the risk of any unnecessary suffering inadvertently being caused to their animal.
Are Feather and Fur Sales allowed?
The amendment to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Wales) (Regulations 2020 permits livestock markets to take place. Livestock is not defined in the coronavirus restrictions legislation; however it is defined in the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995 which states:“livestock” includes any creature kept for the production of food, wool, skins or fur or for the purpose of its use in the farming of land. As fur and feather sales are typically for the hobbyist and not for the use in farming of the land it is felt that they fall outside the scope of the definition of livestock and that these sales should not be permitted.
Government Expectations Relating to Inspections
It is for each Local Authority to do a risk assessment to determine when and whether it is appropriate to do inspections. If there is something that is a priority for enforcement action and posed a serious risk to public health or disease spread, APHA has said they will work with an individual LA to see what was possible and how they could work together to decide what was required and feasible to deliver in the circumstances.
Can Animals be collected from a pet shop?
Pet shops have not been required to close so can sell pets. The Kennel Club advises “A decision to sell small pets should be made on an individual basis having made a risk assessment of the pet shop’s ability to carry out the function in accordance with government’s Coronavirus safety guidelines and subject to the ability of staff on duty to provide informed care advice about the particular species being sold. Pet shops can also consider arrangements for home delivery of items. “
Can Puppies be collected from a breeder?
Yes, the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020 allows a person to collect goods which have been ordered from a business in any way permitted.
All puppies should be seen with their mother at the point of collection. Where there is concern regarding social distancing, it is advised that where a puppy is being purchased from a breeder and cannot be seen with the mother in the home at the time of collection, video footage is shared by the breeder of the offspring with their mother prior to the sale.
Where a breeder undertakes delivery and the journey will be over 40 miles (65kms), it is considered that they will be caught by the rules relating to the Welfare of Animals in Transport EU Regulation 1/2005 and it is advised that they seek authorisation with the APHA Welfare of Animals in Transport Team (WIT). https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/769576/form-wit01.pdf
Should local authorities relax Boarding Establishment licences in relation to the requirements for vaccinations.
BVA advice for vets can be found here and RCVS advice here.
Both say that vets may carry out vaccinations and this will be a professional judgement for them. BVA guidance goes further and suggests certain vaccinations should be happening. On the basis of this, we do not consider it appropriate to issue blanket changes to licence conditions that would impact on their ability to take animals that do not have up to date vaccinations and thus risk the health and welfare of other animals. Clearly if there is an emergency situation (such as the need to take in an animal from a key worker when alternatives cannot be found), then this can be addressed at a local level.
“Fun” Dog Shows
These are not animal gatherings. These events are covered by legislation relating to travelling, social distancing and the number of people who can meet. The requirements will be enforced by the police.
Can Zoos, Aquariums, Safari parks and Visitor Attractions at Farms open?
Unlike in England, the Welsh Regulations do not currently prohibit the opening of these. Areas such as playgrounds/café’s etc. within them are still required to be closed. Any opening would have to be subject to relevant social distancing measures.
Cases affecting mink
Coronavirus has mutated and there are now cases in Denmark affecting mink. Due to this, the authority has received information from Public Health Wales to offer advice on what you can do to try and avoid the risk of transmission:
If you do have any pet mink or ferrets at your site, contact with those animals should be avoided by any person that is symptomatic with any COVID symptoms.
Further information from Welsh Government has been provided as: