Pet Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Pet Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

We have prepared the following information to address some frequently asked questions, and help pet owners navigate this confusing and difficult time.  

Follow these links to the information you are looking for:

Please note that there are many things that are currently unknown about this virus and the risk it poses to pets and from pets to humans. This information has been prepared with the best and most current information available at the time but things are changing rapidly as the situation evolves. Our information is updated as often as possible.

For updates on how COVID-19 is impacting RSPCA WA’s services, click here.

Can I walk my dog?

Provided you’re not self-isolating, you should continue to exercise your dog daily. Just maintain social distance – that means keep at least 1.5m away from others – while out walking, stay local, and avoid other people, dogs and shared spaces as much as possible.

In WA, people required by law to self-isolate must stay home (or in other accommodation such as a hotel) even if they are feeling perfectly well with no symptoms. If you live in a unit or apartment block, you must stay in your unit or apartment. People should only go outside to seek medical care.

If you’re required by law to self-isolate, you need to think about whether you’re able to manage your dog’s needs, and seek support if needed.

If you cannot take care of your dog's toileting needs while in self-isolation, you should consider having someone else look after them.

If you can take care of your dog’s toileting needs, but just can’t exercise them normally while self-isolating, your dog can still stay home with you (check out the enrichment tips below!).

If you’re infected with COVID-19, you can generally keep your pets with you in home isolation, but there are some simple precautions you should take.

Should I stock up on pet supplies?

As a safeguard, we’d recommend keeping one month’s supply of medication and food for your pet, in case you need to self-isolate or go into hospital. However, please don’t hoard vast quantities of pet supplies, as this creates a shortage for others.

If your local supermarket has run low on pet food, consider visiting a specialist pet supply store, like City Farmers, or shop online and have supplies delivered to your door.

We’d like to remind pet owners that it’s OK to ask for help. If you’re struggling to care for your pets, please talk to your friends and family, or contact a local shelter, rescue group, or the RSPCA.

During this difficult time, we are in discussions with the State Government to make sure that RSPCA WA is identified as an essential service, to ensure we can continue to care for animals and support pet owners. 

Can I cuddle my pet?

Whether your fur baby likes couch cuddles, ear scratches, head boops or tummy rubs, now is the purr-fect time to bank some quality snuggle time with them.

This one will benefit owners too, because pets can help ease feelings of depression, stress and loneliness, which is so important in these uncertain times.

Some animals, especially cats, may find having more people constantly at home stressful. To combat this, make sure your pets have places to hide away if they want to and have the things they need easily accessible (for example, food, water, and litter trays).

If you test positive for COVID-19, you should restrict contact with pets and other animals. just like you would around other people. 

For more information, see: What do I need to do if I or a close contact contracts COVID-19 to keep us and our pets safe?

Please note, there’s no evidence that pets and other companion animals play a role in the spread of COVID-19.

How should I prepare?

A little preparation will go a long way when it comes to keeping your pets happy and healthy through this pandemic.  For tips on preparing your pet for self-isolation, click here.

In more serious cases of COVID-19, hospitalisation may be necessary. To be prepared, ask a friend or family member if they’d be willing to care for your pets in your absence, or research alternatives in your area – like boarding kennels or catteries. Keep in mind, these options may become more limited over the coming weeks. More tips to prepare your pets in case of hospitalisation here.

If you haven’t made arrangements and need to be urgently hospitalised, please leave your pets outside, not locked inside. Also leave food, water, emergency contact details, and any medication, and let the hospital, social worker or your neighbours know as soon as possible that your animals have been left alone.

For horses, we would add the following information:

  • Please ensure that you plan ahead so that your horses can be well looked after should you have to self-isolate or are admitted to hospital.
  • Have at least one (1) month’s supply of food (and medication if necessary) available on site
  • Let your neighbours and next of kin know about care arrangements for your horses
  • If your horses are kept at a separate property to where you live, make sure the property owner where the horses are kept, the neighbours at that property, and the local council rangers are aware of any arrangements you have put in place and know how to get hold of you.
  • Put a sign on the property where your horses are kept with your name and phone details, in case someone needs to get in touch with you
  • Ask friends or family to assist with checking on your horses at least once a day to ensure they have access to fresh water and plenty of nutritious food
  • Make sure that any equipment usually left on your horses (blankets, halters, fly screens, etc.) is in good working order and cannot cause harm or injury to your horse if they become loose or get snagged on fences, etc.

As always, it’s also a good idea to be prepared – have a full tank of fuel, and don’t make any unnecessary stops if you’re going out to check on your horses. Maintain social distancing rules at all times, and wash your hands thoroughly when you return home.

To assist in reducing the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus the WA Government has introduced restrictions on travel to and within WA which could prevent people from travelling to care for animals under their care. For more info, see: Can I leave home to care for animals during the COVID-19 pandemic?

If you are struggling to care for your pets, please ask for help. Contact fellow horse owners, or approach horse shelters, rescue groups or the RSPCA for assistance. (It is important to note that RSPCA WA Inspectors are currently attending calls based on priority – emergencies and major incidents where an animal’s life is in imminent danger take priority. Inspectors will not be able to attend a property just to check on an animal’s status right away).

As most people are aware, this situation is evolving rapidly. We encourage concerned West Australians to closely watch our website and follow us on social media for the latest updates regarding pet care and Coronavirus.

Or visit RSPCA's Knowledgebase website

How do I keep my pet happy at home?

With more time at home with your pet, it’s the ideal opportunity to dive into some enrichment to keep their mind active.

Some ideas for mental stimulation:

  • Use Kongs when feeding your dog
  • Hide treats in your house and yard
  • Make frozen treats for them
  • Keep plenty of different toys that you can rotate
  • Play games with them such as fetch
  • Do some basic training with them. (What better opportunity to make sure they know all the basics, like sit, stay, lie down and come?) 

If you've recently welcomed a new puppy into your family, and are wondering about socialising them during COVID-19, click here for advice

If you’re a cat owner, RSPCA’s Safe and Happy Cats Guide will help provide everything your pet needs to keep them safe and happy at home with you.

In general, most pets other than cats and dogs will be contained to your property and good care from you will help to keep them healthy and happy. RSPCA’s Knowledgebase contains a lot of advice about caring for all kind of pets.

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