Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for animal owners

Last updated: 19 Jul 2021 - see all updates
Published: 2 Oct 2020

Advice for pet owners and livestock keepers on looking after the health and welfare of their animals during the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for animal owners


There is limited evidence that some animals, including pets, can become infected with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (the virus that causes COVID-19), following close contact with infected humans.  

In several countries in the world, incidents of infections in animals have been reported in companion animals (mostly cats and dogs), in a limited number of zoo animals and on mink farms. The majority had contact with infected humans, or humans introduced the infection that then spread among animals, such as farmed mink.

In the UK, there is no evidence of the virus circulating in livestock, cases in pet animals are very rare, and there are no mink farms. COVID-19 is driven by human to human transmission, with more than 50 million human cases globally.

In line with general advice, you should wash your hands regularly with soap or a sanitising product, including before and after contact with animals and animal products. You should avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth until hands have been thoroughly washed.

SARS-CoV-2 is now a reportable disease

From 22 February 2021, there is a legal obligation in Scotland to report the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in all mammals (except man). To report SARS-CoV-2 in Scotland, please contact your local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Field Services Office.

Making SARS-CoV-2 reportable requires any positive results from mammals (except man) to be reported to Government. If a mutated strain of public health importance is found, the Government may wish to utilise powers, including isolation and movement restrictions. However, we would like to stress that control measures would only be taken as a last resort.

If you are concerned about your pet because it has respiratory signs, or digestive problems, you should contact your vet who will decide whether testing is required.  

  • your vet can decide for you if your pet meets the requirement for testing. Any testing would be at the owner’s expense
  • testing for SARS-CoV-2 should only be undertaken where it is in the interest of the health and welfare of the animal
  • it is rare for an animal to contract coronavirus, and they may show only mild clinical signs and recover within a few days

First published: 2 Oct 2020 Last updated: 19 Jul 2021 -