Coronavirus animal welfare

We publish advice on animal welfare during the coronavirus outbreak. This will be updated as Government guidance and requirements for COVID-19 change.

On this page:

Precautions for self-isolating households

You are responsible for the care of animals during any period of self-isolation, including cats, horses and livestock. Wherever possible you should arrange with friends, family or neighbours for the care of your animals should the need arise.

Visit the GOV.UK website for coronavirus advice for people with animals.

Pet caring

You are allowed to walk a dog for someone who is unable to leave their house.

Where possible, pets should be cared for away from their home during the isolation period so that repeat visits are avoided.

Strict social distancing should be followed when pets are collected or returned, and hands must be washed afterwards. 

Dogs from self-isolating households should be kept on a lead. Avoid contact with other people and animals if being walked in public.

Home boarders

The Canine and Feline Sector Group (CFSG) has revised its guidance regarding home boarding. 

It states that the priority should be given to board dogs from householders of key workers or shielded or vulnerable people. 

If you chose to board dogs, there is a handover protocol you must follow. For more information about this protocol, download the CFSG Animal Business Guidance document below.

Icon for pdf CFSG Animal Business Guidance [214.06KB]

Additional precautions that must be taken include:

  • dogs to be walked on the lead locally, maintaining social distance from other people and pets
  • dogs must arrive and depart at different times so clients can maintain social distance
  • avoid transport in a vehicle for walks
  • dogs from non-infected households or self-isolating households can be mixed
  • owners retain their own lead
  • all equipment is washed once the dog has left
  • dogs from infected household should not be mixed with dogs from non-infected households.

Riding establishments

The British Horse Society (BHS) believes that riding schools and livery yards may re-open providing they observed the current Government guidance in relation to social distancing.

Establishments will also need to follow addition Government guidance on hygiene and increased biosecurity for the resumption of sport, having consulted with Sport England and the Sport and Recreation Alliance.

General guidance provided by BHS includes:

  • any stables opening may only do so for outdoor activities
  • group hacks or lessons would not be permitted
  • people may only exercise in groups of no more than two, unless the group is exclusively from one household
  • freelance coaches are advised to provide lessons or coaching, and this should be to individuals only, not to family groups.

To assist you, we may ask to see your coronavirus risk assessment which should demonstrate how social distancing will be maintained when assisting clients, tacking up, adjusting girths and stirrups and checking hats. We may also ask you about the hygiene and biosecurity measures in place at the establishment.  

Your business should seek advice and guidance from your insurance company. 

Licence renewals

During the outbreak, we will extend animal licences that are due on a case by case basis, for an initial period of three months. This will reduce the need for inspection and the risks involved whilst the outbreak continues.

To allow for this, you should either apply for a licence as normal or contact us and request an extension to your licence.

Pet shops

Licensed pet shops are deemed to be essential services for the provision of pet food and supplies. 

Any pet sales during this time should only be ancillary to the primary purpose of the visit to the pet shop, and the sale only of animals already in stock is allowed.

Sales can only take place if they can be undertaken in accordance with the Government's COVID-19 guidance.

Contact details

For further information about coronavirus and animal welfare, contact us using the details below.


Phone: 023 8028 5411

Environmental Health
New Forest District Council
Appletree Court
Beaulieu Road
SO43 7PA

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