In an unprecedented move as part of the efforts to slow the spread of the Covid 19 coronavirus epidemic in the UK and ease the pressure on the NHS, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a number of wide-reaching restrictions on the evening of 23rd March 2020 that will have an impact on how all of us live our lives and meet our needs for the foreseeable future.
The basic instruction everyone must heed is to “stay at home” other than when going out is absolutely necessary, with the caveats that everyone may go out once a day to exercise, that people may go out to do essential shopping or for any medical purposes, for essential travel to and from work, and that shops selling “non-essential goods” must close.
Additionally, gatherings of more than two people other than people who live together are not permitted, and people are advised to keep a distance of at least six feet from others when possible.
All of these things are going to dramatically transform what we can do and how we can do it over the course of the next few weeks and months; and for dog owners, things may be even more complicated as we struggle to apply concepts of “need” and “essential” to our pets as well as to ourselves.
This means that dog owners understandably have a lot of questions about what they can and cannot do relating to caring for their dogs whilst the Covid 19 coronavirus stay at home restrictions are in place; and this article is designed to answer five of the most commonly asked questions about dogs and the coronavirus stay at home restrictions. Read on to learn more.
Can you walk dogs during the coronavirus stay at home restrictions? Yes, because everyone is permitted one period of daily exercise that involves leaving their homes. Walking your dog is perfectly fine to do as your exercise, and if there is more than one member of your household, this can mean more than one walk for your dog.
Also, there is no restriction on the length of time you take for your exercise, so if you need to change your dog over from two daily walks to one, make the one walk longer, whilst of course practicing social distancing safely.
As ever, if you or anyone in your home is displaying coronavirus symptoms, stay in and make alternative arrangements instead.
Can you still shop at pet shops during stay at home restrictions? Yes, pet shops have not been forced to close like many other shops, and are considered to be essential enough to daily life to be permitted to stay open whilst other non-essential businesses have closed.
Bear in mind that individual pet shop owners may have made personal decisions to close and/or be unable to staff their stores, so it is wise to check with a phone call before you set off.
Some pet stores will have restrictions in place during this time too, such as how many people can shop at once, possibly shorter opening hours, how many of each individual item you can buy, and requirements to wash hands or sanitize before you come in.
Whilst some pet supplies you may need can only be bought from pet shops, don’t forget you can get basics and a range of pet foods from supermarkets with your regular shopping too.
Can you go to the vet during stay at home restrictions? Yes, if your vet approves this. Veterinary clinics remain open but where possible, they will offer alternatives to face-to-face consults, deliver services remotely when this is viable, and they won’t be offering non-urgent or essential services, which means things like weight clinics and puppy socialisation classes will be suspended.
Contact your vet and they will advise you on how to proceed.
Can you still get your dog groomed during coronavirus stay at home restrictions? No probably not. Human hairdressing salons, nail salons and beauty salons and so on are deemed non-essential, and the same applies to dog groomers. Dog groomers should not at this time be offering their usual services, as whilst this has not been explicitly forbidden, they fall under the category of non-essential.
The only potential exception to this might be if the entire service can be delivered remotely without contact or proximity between dog owner and groomer, but unless guidance is issued to the contrary, dog groomers should not as a rule be accepting customers at this time.
Are boarding kennels and daycare for dogs available during the Covid 19 restrictions?
Most boarding kennels and doggy day care facilities have already closed to new clients or stays, and this is a bit of a grey area in terms of “essential services.” Once more, no direct government guidance has been issued (or is likely to be issued specific to businesses of this type) but you’re unlikely to find your local boarding kennels, doggy daycare, or dog walking services running, other than for boarding facilities to care for dogs already present.
The one potential exception that such services may make might pertain to offering services to key workers or in emergencies, in support of efforts to keep the country functioning, much in the same way that provision for schooling has been made for the children of key workers to support their work efforts.
If you are a key worker, it is worth checking with local services; but otherwise, once more this is likely to be deemed non-essential and you’re unlikely to be able to find such services operating as normal.