Coronavirus FAQs for pet owners

Coronavirus FAQs for pet owners


This is a really uncertain time for all of us, not least because it’s all so new.

We are working hard to find ways to make our services easily accessible to our community as it is at the moment, and to help reassure pet owners who are worried about the health of their pet and their family.

We thought it would be a useful start to put together many of the questions we are asked about how to take care of our pets during these times, and what the risk factors around them are.

We will be regularly updating this, so if you have a question that you’d like answered in the next update please email us at reception@hawthornvets.co.uk

We hope to share other useful articles and our response to COVID-19 as time goes on, including our new video consults with a vet, and our home delivery options. We know that this is one of the worst times to deal with a flea and worm infestation in your home, so we’re doing all we can to make sure there is no break in your preventative treatments.

If you know someone who might benefit from reading this resource and being kept up to date, please feel free to forward this page to them. They can also sign up for email notifications when new content is added.

Q: Can my pet get coronavirus?

A: There have been dog and cat coronaviruses around for a long time but there is NO evidence of a single case of a pet dog or cat infecting a human with Covid-19. It has been suggested that cats could be susceptible to infection FROM humans by inhaling virus particles suspended in the air after an infected human has coughed or sneezed. However, there is no evidence of a pet becoming ill from Covid-19 or of a pet infecting a human-being.

This just affects humans. Until more is known it’s sensible to be careful and maintain hygiene standards around our pets as well as humans by including no kissing, and careful hand washing before and after any contact.

Q: Is my hand sanitising gel going to poison my dog?!

A: No, this is false information shared on social media. Many hand gels contain alcohol, but not Ethylene Glycol as the posts claim. Alcohol isn’t great for your pet if a whole bottle of gel is consumed, but generally the alcohol evaporates quickly and isn’t dangerous if licked off your hands, or their fur when they groom themselves after you’ve touched them.

Washing our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is the best way to keep clean, but if that option isn’t available when you need it please don’t let this false story stop you using gel.

Q: My cat goes out and will be going across other people’s property. Should I keep her in?

A: Just like our hands, it’s possible for pet fur to carry the virus from person to person. Unless your cat is very friendly, the chances of them being fussed by a neighbour are small, and the chances of that person being infected even less. However, the British Veterinary Association advises that if you have symptoms of Covid-19, or are self isolating then it would be a good idea to try and keep your cat indoors if this is possible to help reduce any possible risk to other people. It makes good sense to practice good hand hygiene around your pet regardless. You can read the latest BVA guidance here.

Q: Are you still open? What do I do if my pet is sick during the lockdown?

A: We are still open during our normal working hours and our emergency services are still open as usual during the night. We are, however, only seeing emergency or critical cases during this time to reduce risk to the public and our staff. If you are unsure if your pet needs to be seen, then please call for advice and we can guide you.

Q: How do I get repeat medications, flea and wormers and food during the lockdown?

A: We are offering home delivery of your flea and wormers within a five mile radius of our Henfield branch as well as repeat medications. 

Just let us know you’d like some delivered and we will let you know when we’ll be able to bring it to you.

Bags of dog food are too big to practically post. However, we can deliver them to you. This is free of charge within five miles of our Henfield branch. If you live further away, we may be able to deliver for a small fee depending on the distance.

Postage of all medications is available and free of charge for all members of the health plan.

Finally, if delivery or postage are not feasible for you then we can arrange a time for you collect the products direct from the practice.

Please give us three days notice when ordering products so we can plan our routes. 

Q: My pet is on long term medication but I’m due a check-up - should I come in?

A: We are providing some leeway on chronic condition check-ups in the short term and prescribing medications up to three months at a time. If your pet is due a check-up, we may suggest this via video consult if it is appropriate, otherwise we may advise that your pet does need to come depending on how long it has been since they were last seen, and what the problem is. 

For example, we can assess things such as chronic skin conditions over a video consult, while conditions such as blood pressure monitoring will still require a visit to the practice. 

If you pet is due a check-up, it is best to contact us and we can advise on each case individually.

Just launched: Vet video consultations - you can still have an appointment with one of our vets 

Q: What do I do if I am self-isolating but my pet needs a vet?

A: We are only seeing emergency and critical cases at the moment but if you think your pet needs to be seen then please call for advice. We will make arrangements that ensure both your and our staff's health whilst giving your pets access to the best care possible.

Q: What should I do about exercising my dog if I’m sick?

A: If you are self-isolating due to illness, then it’s best to restrict close contact with your pet.  Exercise your dog in your garden if you have one, or just outside your house to toilet. Keep your distance from other people, clean any mess and make sure no one touches your dog just in case the virus is on their fur. 

It’s a good idea to set up a back-up plan now in case you’re unable to look after your pet for a while. Consider asking a family member, friend or neighbour if they would be willing to help for a while.

Q: I know we’re all in this together and I’m worried there’ll be a negative impact on some pets’ lives. Is there anything I can do?

A: Yes, unfortunately this is having an impact on everyone including many pets. There are lots of ways you can help your community including donating pet food to your local food bank, offering to help vulnerable pet owners (if it’s safe for you to do so) by walking their dog or shopping for pet food for them. 

All animal charities are likely to be affected by this too, so if you have anything spare that you’d like to donate, this would be a great time to do so.

Q: What if my pet's booster or six-monthly health check is due during the lockdown? Is there likely to be an outbreak of parvo virus after this?

A: We unfortunately have had to postpone all non-urgent, routine appointments (as per the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons guidance) and therefore boosters and health checks will not be allowed whilst these measures are in place. Click here for more detailed advice on vaccinations during this time.

Please do not be concerned if there is a delay with a booster vaccine, as they will have some residual immunity from previous vaccinations of between three and six months after the booster is due. 

Parvo virus immunity lasts even longer, which is why we only vaccinate against this every three years.

Q: My puppy/kitten hasn’t finished their initial vaccinations. What shall I do?!

A: We advise that you keep them in your property and not let them mix with potentially unvaccinated animals until it’s safe for us and your family to see them. Click here for more detailed advice on puppy and kitten vaccinations during this time.

Q: What’s the point of a video consult? It’s not as if the vet can listen to my dogs heart or examine my cat properly?

A: A video consult provides us with a way of discussing your pets problem without the need for unnecessary face to face contact, and travel to the practice. In some cases, we are able to make enough of an assessment to prescribe medication for your pet without needing to see them at all. If we do need to see them, then we have already gained much of the information that we need and when you arrive we can keep contact to a minimum.

See how to book your video consultation here: 
Vet video consultations 

Q:  When will it get back to normal?

A: We are currently working on a three-week period of restriction after which the both the government and the RCVS will issue further guidelines. If the period of lockdown is prolonged, then considerations will need to be made for treatment and monitoring of pets on long term medication and also for puppy and kitten vaccinations.