Environment and animals

Coronavirus advice for pet owners

We have a responsibility to ensure animal welfare is protected in York; we've teamed up with the RSPCA in York to offer advice on how you can look after your pets in relation to coronavirus, including dog walking services, what to do if your pet is unwell, and how to keep your pets entertained.

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Access to pet food

If larger supermarkets are running low on pet foods, smaller shops and local supermarkets may have stock, so if you (or a helper) can go out to buy food, it is worth trying smaller shops first.

While many online retailers are continuing to deliver, some pet food items may be out of stock, or take a long time to arrive. We're encouraging residents to use local pet foods shop, 'Pets Pantry', who can delivering across York; telephone: 01904 620527 to place an order.

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Animals and COVID-19

Like human hands, pet fur could carry the coronavirus, so good hygiene is important when interacting with our pets, especially if they could have been in contact with other people.

You should:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after interacting with pets
  • avoid being licked, kissing you pet or sharing food with them
  • avoid petting animals that you do not know, while out exercising

A very small number of animals have been reported to have tested positive for, or shown symptoms of, COVID-19. Some of these animals were deliberately exposed to the disease in an artificial setting, which did not represent real life. The others were cases where the virus has reportedly been passed from a person to an animal. Importantly, to date, there is no known evidence of the virus passing from pets to humans.

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Advice for cat owners

We're reassuring cat owners that the risk to their pets of being impacted by COVID-19 is incredibly small.

If you or someone in your household is ill and you're self-isolating, it's advisable to keep your cat indoors, especially if your pet is happy to stay in, and normally uses a litter tray. If your cats go outside, try to minimise contact and wash your hands after interactions.

We don't recommend keeping your cats indoors if they aren't used it, as this may cause stress and potentially serious health problems.

To keep your cat happy while indoors:

  • provide a litter tray in a quiet place; clean it regularly - cats are often reluctant to use a dirty tray or one located in a busy area
  • ensure enough space is available - indoor cats should have access to several rooms
  • allow access to a minimum of 2 types of resting places, one floor level enclosed on 3 sides, and another safely at a higher level, with a good view
  • provide scratching posts in several locations for territory marking, muscle strengthening and sharpening claws
  • give opportunities for daily exercise, to stay fit and healthy
  • create physical and mental stimulation; cats can become frustrated and bored with indoor lifestyles
  • make plenty of time to play (as there's less opportunity for cats to freely interact with people/other animals outside)
  • don't leave your pet alone for long periods each day

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Advice for dog owners

Mental stimulation is a great way to keep your dog entertained and occupied; keep your dog happy by replacing exercise with other activities, until you're able to undertake their usual walks.

To keep your dog happy if you're self-isolating:

  • offer a challenge at meal time - swap food bowls for a 'Kong' or other food puzzle to get them thinking
  • set aside time play, games such as fetch or tug
  • try learning a new obedience command for mental stimulation
  • give healthy treats to encourage tricks like 'shake paw', sit, lie down or roll-over
  • provide scent trails and searches for hidden kibble/food taken from their usual meal portions

Your dog will need to go outdoors for toileting; if you have a garden allow regular breaks. If you don't have a garden or outdoor area, use the nearest suitable space, for the shortest time necessary, and ensure you maintain your social distance.

Spotify has recently launched My Dog's Favourite Podcast, which has a range of carefully selected spoken word, sound and original music designed to encourage canine relaxation.

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Dog walking

To help with social distancing, keep your pet on a lead, unless you're sure there are no other people around.

Adhere to social distancing guidelines when taking your pet out:

  • keep you and your pet 2 meters apart from anyone else
  • do not touch anyone else’s pet

If you're self-isolating ask a friend, family member or volunteer to take your pet for a walk for you.

Although there is no evidence that pets can spread COVID-19, we would advise avoiding contact with other people's pets. If you walk someone else's dog during coronavirus must follow CFSG guidance.

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Pets that are unwell

Telephone your vet for advice if your pet is poorly or you have any concerns about their health. If your vet isn't open, check their website or listen to information on their answerphone service. Alternatively, use the online RCVS 'find a vet' tool.

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Further support for pet owners

Many community organisations can offer support for pet care:

Age UK York Keep Your Pet Service

Age UK York and the RSPCA York offer help to older and vulnerable pet owners, aged 18 plus, to care for their pets. This service, which includes dog walking, taking an animal to the vet, and short term fostering, and pet food delivery. All the volunteers working for the service are following social distancing rules and use their own leads for walking dogs.

Home Care

Home Care provides care across the City of York. Services, which operating as usual during the COVID-19 crisis, include all aspects of personal care, companionship, housekeeping and Dementia care, including Alzheimer's. If clients have pets then support will be provided to care for their needs, such as feeding and walking. Home Care do not provide pet care as a stand-alone service.

Sunshine Independence, Support and Social Assistance

Sunshine Independence, Support and Social Assistance is a sole trader who provides support as a micro-provider of personal care. They work with vulnerable and isolated individuals helping them to get the support they need. If the client has a pet then support will be provided, either directly or by putting them in touch with other organisations in the system that can help. Email: sunshinecommunityyork@gmail.com

The Cinnamon Trust

The Cinnamon Trust is a National Charity for people aged 65 and over, the terminally ill, and their pets. The organisation aim to keep people and their pets together, by assisting with pet related tasks such as dog walking, pet care and short term fostering. Longer term care is also provided for pets whose owners have died or moved into residential accommodation that will not accept pets.

York Personal Support and Personal Assistants

York Personal Support and Personal Assistants specialises in providing professional personal assistants to adults and adults and students with disabilities, including physical disabilities, mental health issues and learning difficulties. If the client already has a pet then the service will provide dog walking, feeding and general care as part of the overall care package.

Nextdoor neighbourhood mobile app

Members of our Volunteer Coordination Team are included in the Nextdoor mobile app. Registration gives access to an interactive map which shows offers that are being posted for a variety of volunteering activities, including offers of dog walking ;by members of the local community across York, in areas such as Leeman Road, Rawcliffe, Chapelfields and Holgate.


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