Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs for animal carers

There is currently no evidence that pets play a role in the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) to humans. It has not been reported in domestic animals or wildlife in Australia.

Cats, dogs and ferrets can contract coronavirus (COVID-19) if they have significant exposure to infected humans. Cats and ferrets may even become ill, but this is a very rare event.

Providing care for animals

Animal owners have an obligation to ensure that their pets or livestock are properly cared for at all times. Owners must ensure animals are provided with proper and sufficient food, water, shelter, and veterinary treatment when necessary.

You should continue to follow good hygiene before and after handling animals, their food or equipment, or after washing food and water bowls. You should:

  1. Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, using soap and water or use a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol. Dry with paper towel or hand dryer. Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  2. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.
  3. If you are feeling unwell for any reason, it is a good idea to avoid close contact such as hugging, face-to-face contact, sharing food or sleeping with your pets.

If you are unable to go outdoors, you should consider some dedicated indoor play time with your pets. Provide toys and games for mental enrichment. Games could include fetch, hide the treat and teaching pets new tricks.

Plan ahead

Ensure you have sufficient food, litter or any medications your animals may need, just in case you need to self-isolate.

Have a plan for how your animals will be cared for if you cannot look after them, and make sure the person you will be trusting with caring for your animals is willing to take on this responsibility.

If you are diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19)

If you are diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) you must follow the directions given to you by health authorities. If you have been directed to self-isolate, you must not leave your home.

If you are sick with coronavirus (COVID-19) you should minimise contact with animals and where possible you should arrange for someone else to mind your pets and care for livestock. You should contact their veterinarian to discuss options, including a call-out, if pets, livestock or wildlife need veterinary attention.

Frequently asked questions

Can I take my animal to the vet?

Yes, you can take an animal to the vet.

Check in with your veterinary clinic ahead of your appointment as clinics are operating with new rules to ensure they meet physical distancing requirements. You are also required to wear a face mask.

If you are unwell, or are in quarantine or isolation, contact your veterinary practitioner by phone for advice on what to do to ensure your animal gets the care it needs. You must not leave home.

Are pet stores open and what services can they provide?

Under the Third Step, general retail (including pet stores) are open, subject to density, signage, record-keeping and cleaning requirements. The business must have a COVIDSafe Plan.

Pet grooming in pet stores is permitted for general purposes, including in circumstances where there are not genuine animal welfare issues.

I’m picking up a new pet – how can I keep myself safe?

When you are picking up a pet you should keep 1.5 metres between yourself and others.

Practise good hygiene, including washing your hands regularly. You are also required to wear a face mask.

Travelling interstate is not recommended. If the pet is located interstate, you will need to check the rules for travel from Victoria, including any permits required or quarantine requirements.

If you are unwell, or are in quarantine or isolation, you must not leave home.

Are pet boarding facilities open?

Under the Third Step, pet boarding facilities across Victoria can operate.

You must review the relevant guidance and implement appropriate measures to meet requirements of opening (e.g. the density quotient of one person per four square metres), and keep workers and customers safe.

Pet boarding facilities must have a COVIDSafe Plan in place.

Can I look for my lost pet at the council animal shelter or pound?

If you have lost a pet, first call your council to check if it is in the pound. If your pet is there, follow their instructions to arrange for its return.

Can I take or surrender a pet to a council animal shelter or pound?

Yes, under the Domestic Animals Act 1994, council animal shelters and pounds must accept surrendered animals.

If you have found a lost pet or need to surrender a pet, first call your council and follow their instructions.

Can I go horse riding?

Yes, you can go horse riding with members of your household or in a group of up to ten people, plus an instructor if required.

Outdoor horse-riding classes can resume with up to ten people plus the instructor. If your household is greater than ten, you can attend riding classes with your household.

Indoor horse-riding classes can resume:

  • There are limits on the number of people in spaces. There are limits on the number of people in facilities. This limit reduces the risk of transmission within a closed space.
  • Classes can resume with up to 10 adults, or 20 children. Smaller venues will have a smaller number of people.
  • Equipment shouldn’t be shared between people and must be cleaned after every use.

There are no limits on the distance you can travel to go horse riding.

You need to ensure that you keep a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres from others. You must clean and disinfect equipment between users. Where possible you should minimise the sharing of equipment.

If you own or manage a physical recreation (indoor and/or outdoor) business, you can find advice and more information on current restrictions by visiting Arts and recreation services sector guidance. There are a number of restrictions that apply to these businesses including limits on the number of customers, cleaning, signage and record-keeping.

Can pet rescue, rehoming groups and community foster care networks continue to operate?

Yes, pet rescue, rehoming groups and community foster care networks can continue to operate with some limitations. Pets can still be transported to and from a place of care, including to a foster carer. Prospective home inspections or meet and greets are not allowed.

Can wildlife rescue and care networks continue to operate?

Yes. The emergency rescue, care and transport of injured wildlife can continue.

If you are conducting wildlife rescue or care you should keep at least 1.5 metres between yourself and others and practise good hygiene, including washing your hands regularly. You are also required to wear a face mask.

Are pet breeder service allowed to deliver pets?

Yes, pets can be delivered to their new home.

You must discuss the requirements for the new pet via video or phone prior to the delivery. Always maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres between yourself and other people when delivering a pet and wear a face mask.

Can pet grooming businesses open under the Third Step?

Yes. Pet grooming businesses can operate for general purposes, not just where there is an animal welfare reason for providing pet grooming services. Where a pet grooming business is operating from a residential premises, they must meet additional requirements, including:

  • a dedicated premise for the business to operate that is separate from the place of residence in all aspects (e.g. workers or clients cannot enter the residence)
  • an entrance for workers and clients that is separate to the residence
  • no shared facilities (e.g. toilets, kitchen, etc.).

Can dog trainers operate outdoors?

Yes. During the Third Step of the roadmap for reopening, dog trainers can operate outdoors with up to 10 people plus the trainer and with a COVIDSafe Plan. All those in attendance must wear a fitted face mask unless they have a lawful reason not to.

If you are operating an outdoor class, you may need a permit from your local council. You can find your local council using Know Your Council.

Can my animal get sick from coronavirus (COVID-19)?

There is currently no evidence that animals play a role in the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) to humans.

Cats, dogs and ferrets can contract coronavirus (COVID-19) if they have significant exposure to infected humans. Cats and ferrets may even become ill, but this is a very rare event.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has not been reported in domestic animals or wildlife in Australia.

You should continue to follow good hygiene practices before and after handling animals, their food or equipment, or after washing food/water bowls.

How will animal service businesses be impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions?

Under the restrictions on businesses, animal saleyards, knackeries and transportation of animals (including livestock and pets) can remain operating across Victoria.

Veterinary clinics and related services, including on-farm visits, animal minding services and artificial insemination can remain operating.

Everyone should wear a face mask, keep at least 1.5 metres apart, and regularly wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or use hand sanitiser to keep themselves safe when engaging with these services.

Page last updated: 24 Nov 2020