PET owners are being encouraged to think about how they will care for their animals if they need to stay at home with suspected symptoms of coronavirus.

The RSCPA is encouraging owners to think about the needs of their pets if they are to self isolate for seven days.

The latest Government guidance advises everyone to carry out ‘social distancing’ in order to stop the spread of coronavirus and protect vulnerable members of the community.

As a result of this advice the Government has said that people can go out for a walk if they stay two metres away from people.”.

RSPCA animal welfare expert, Dr Samantha Gaines, said: “There’s no evidence to suggest that pets can be carriers of coronavirus or can become ill from it themselves. We would urge pet owners not to panic and to not abandon their pets.

“The latest ‘social distancing’ advice does not have a huge impact on pet owners, but dog walkers do need to follow Government advice and keep two meters away from others while they are out for a stroll.”

She added: “Pet owners who are not showing any signs of coronavirus themselves or living with anyone who has symptoms should continue to interact with their pets but adopt good hygiene practices including washing hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after touching them, their food, toys and bedding.

“This is good advice at any time and not specific to the Coronavirus situation. Avoid being kissed or licked and sharing food with your pet.”

For those who are social distancing, the RSPCA suggest that it is always adopt good hygiene practises and thoroughly wash your hands after interacting with your pets, such as rabbits, rodents, birds and reptiles.

Avoid being kissed or licked and sharing food with your pet.

Ensure you have supplies of pet food and medication in case of you need to stay at home.

Enjoy dog walks but keep two meters away from other people

For those self-isolating, the charity encouraged pet owners to think about how they can care for their animals if they need to ‘stay at home’ if they or a member of the household show symptoms of the virus.

Sam added: “As well as the good hygiene measures, pet owners should try and ensure you have supplies of pet food and medication if you need to ‘stay at home’ and speak to your vet

or doctor for more advice.

“If you own a horse or livestock and keep them on land that is not based at your address, arrange for a friend to care for them until you’re able to return to normal. If possible, arrange for another person to care for your pet (you could consider using a dog walker or home boarder)."