Can pets catch covid? - advice, pet insurance and how we can help

5 January 2022 - 6 min read

You may be worried about coronavirus (Covid-19) and what this means for your cat or dog.

We regularly update this page with the latest advice. We also explains what our pet insurance covers, the features of your policy that may be able to help, and how we're handling the outbreak as a business.

We hope all our customers stay safe and healthy. Many of you may be working from home or self-isolating so we'll also update the page with guides to help you keep your pet happy and healthy at home.

Don't forget that all our customers with vet fee cover can get unlimited, 24/7 online vet advice.

We give you unlimited online access to UK registered vets, so that you can get expert advice if your pet looks unwell or has an injury.  

It’s convenient and gives reassurance that you’re doing the right thing for your pet.

Unlimited, 24/7 video vet calls with FirstVet at no extra cost

Our customer service team are operating as normal. They're available on 0345 340 4090 for our standard working hours of 9am-7pm Mon-Fri and 9am-5.30pm on Saturdays. You can make a claim online through My account.

If you're having trouble keeping up with your monthly pet insurance payments, find out how we may be able to help by changing your payment plan.

Can cats and dogs catch coronavirus?

Although cats and dogs have been known to catch the virus that causes Covid-19, it’s rare and usually very mild. Most are isolated cases where the pet had close contact with a human who had coronavirus.

The British Veterinary Association stresses that there’s no evidence that pets have spread the disease but says that there is now a legal obligation to report the presence of Covid-19 in all mammals other than humans. Your vet will tell you what you need to do.

Other strains of coronavirus can occur in pets and humans but these don’t cause severe or long-term issues.

Vets and pet owners should follow Public Health England and NHS advice and guidance. And the government has now released specific guidance for pet owners.

Wash your hands with soap and hot water before and after contact with pets. This also protects against common bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella that can pass between you and your pet.

ManyPets's veterinary nurse, Sarah James, recommends regularly cleaning and disinfecting litter trays and food/water bowls, clearing up cat and dog faeces quickly. She also suggests avoiding letting your pet lick your face to prevent the spread of viruses.

If your pet becomes unwell or is injured, please contact a vet. ManyPets customers have unlimited free access to UK-registered vets 24/7 via the FirstVet app. You can use it wherever you have a mobile device with wifi or phone signal.

Can pets spread coronavirus?

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) President, Daniella Dos Santos, told us that the current advice from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) remains that the predominant route of transmission is human to human and pets can’t spread the virus.

The BVA has recommended that cats from infected households or where their owners are self-isolating be kept inside and only if the cat is happy to be kept indoors. Some cats cannot stay indoors due to stress-related medical reasons.

Dos Santos reiterates: “There have been a tiny number of cases of Covid-19 in animals and in all cases, it is likely that the transmission was human to animal. There is no evidence that pets can pass Covid-19 to their owners.

"And, as a precaution, for pet owners who have Covid-19 or who are self-isolating, we are recommending that you keep your cat indoors if possible, during that time."

Does ManyPets pet insurance cover coronavirus?

All of our policies will cover vet fees should your pet become unwell. While pets are thought to be a low risk from Covid-19, our insurance policies do not exclude specific viruses so we would cover a new claim for vet treatment for it.

All our vet fee policies have some level of cover for emergency minding. This can be used to cover the cost of pet boarding, a cattery, kennel or pet sitting if you or a relative have an unexpected stay in hospital.

Check your policy to see how much cover you have under the 'Cover if you need pet minding in an emergency' section. You can see all our policy documents here.

We understand it is difficult to get to regular vet appointments you may have had, such as annual vaccinations or dental checks. We want you to know that if you are not able to attend these appointments we will still pay claims.

Some of our cover requires your pet to have regular check-ups for it to remain valid but the current situation makes it impossible for all owners to do this. We would never use this as an excuse to not pay a claim.

If you're a ManyPets customers and you're struggling to make payments because your income has been affected by coronavirus, call our team on 0345 340 4090 to see if they can find a way to help.

What to do if you have to take your pet to a vet

In the immediate wake of the outbreak vets closed their practices for all but emergency appointments. But you should by now be able to see your vet again for routine, elective and preventative treatments – this includes booster vaccinations, general health checks, nail clips, neutering operations and dental treatment.

We recommend that you call your vet first to see if you need a remote consultation or treatment at the practice. If the practice is able to see you they may have their own process that you need to follow, such as only having one person come with the pet and waiting in the car park until they are ready to see you. You may not be allowed into the consulting room with your pet.

If a pet is from a household with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, vets may suggest the pet is washed in the practice before being examined, unless this will prolong any pain it is in.

If restrictions and lockdowns are in place, some vet services may be suspended or delayed, including:

  • Vaccinations (unless for a shelter or in the case of an animal disease outbreak)

  • Non-essential appointments - weight clinics, nail clipping, puppy sessions, annual health checks

  • Neutering

  • Routine reproductive work

Other conditions might be assessed by your vet with a phone or video consultation:

  • Mild trauma

  • Skin issues, including flea allergic dermatitis

  • Post-operation checks

  • Repeat medication checks

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea in an animal that is generally healthy

  • Wounds

  • Dental complaints

  • Lumps

  • Wounds

  • Eye complaints

  • Jaundice

  • Non-acute lameness

  • Anorexia

  • Non-specific lethargy

  • Anal glands/scooting

  • Vaginal discharge

For emergency appointments, you should always be able to see a vet in person. These include:

  • Any of the above issues a vet believes needs to be seen in person after they've first consulted you remotely

  • Severe trauma

  • Seizures

  • Significant weakness or collapse

  • A cough a pet has had for at least a week

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Trouble giving birth

  • Acute severe lameness

  • Abdominal swelling

  • Significant bleeding

  • Retching

  • If a pet has swallowed a significant amount of a toxin

  • If a pet is struggling to urinate or defecate

  • Excessive urination or thirst

  • Vomiting or diarrhoea with significant mental depression

  • Ongoing treatment or monitoring of Addison's patients

  • Monitoring of unstable diabetics

  • Flystrike

  • Gut stasis in small mammals

  • Euthanasia

Adopting a cat or dog during the pandemic

Lockdowns and restrictions can sometimes mean rescue centres have to reduce their rehoming activities temporarily.

Even when rehoming centres are closed to the public it’s still possible to adopt.

Processes might just be a little different, including video home checks and initial meetings.

Many people may be considering getting a pet to help them through this period but it’s important to think of the months and years of pet ownership ahead too. You need to be able to give them enough time and afford the food and care they need for years ahead.

And consider pet insurance to cover potentially expensive vet bills.

If you’ve been working from home, it may be a good time for some people to help a pet get used to a new environment.

If your new friend struggles when you need to leave them at home or return to the office, here’s how you can help them cope with separation anxiety:

Irina Wells
Content Marketing Executive

Irina is a former content marketing executive for ManyPets. She has contributed to a number of personal finance sites, including Loot Financial Services and Claro Money.