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Looking after your pets during the Coronavirus FAQ

We've put together some information to answer some of the questions we're getting asked on a regular basis over social media. We hope you find this useful and get in touch if you have any other questions.

1Can I rehome an animal during the lockdown?

We're pleased that the government has given animal centres permission to restart the rehoming of animals. We have lots of animals who are eager to get out into their new forever homes, however we need to make sure we're taking every possible step to ensure that the safety of animals, staff and adopters is maintained.

During this time we have implemented temporary rehoming guidelines. You can find more information about the guidelines here:

2What should I do about walking my dog during the lockdown?

You can use your daily exercise to walk your dog. If you live alone you can take your dog out once but if two people live in your house each person can take your dog out once or you can both take your dog out once together. You will need to keep two metres apart from other people so we recommend keeping your pets on a lead or using a long lead in an area unless you are sure there are no other people around.

If you live alone without a garden or access to a private space  and your dog needs to go to the toilet then you can take them outside but you must use the space nearest your home making sure these trips are only for the time needed for the dog to toilet and ensure you maintain your social distance.
If you or someone in your family is showing signs of coronavirus then you should use your garden as a place for your dog to toilet and play. A friend, relative or someone in your community may be able to help walk but they will need to know that you are ill and follow the guidance on CFSG online. If you absolutely have to take your dog out because none of these options are possible then walk at a safe distance from other people and minimise the time you are outside.

3What are the risks of animals catching Covid-19 and passing the virus on?

Like human hands, pet fur could carry the virus and so it is important to adopt good hygiene when interacting with our pets, especially if they could have been in contact with other people. This means thoroughly washing hands with soap and water after interacting with them and avoiding being kissed or licked and sharing food with them. As a precaution, we would also advise against touching a cat that you do not know while out exercising.

A very small number of animals have been reported to have tested positive for, or shown symptoms of, COVID-19. Some of these animals were deliberately exposed to the disease in an artificial setting which did not represent real life. The others were cases where the virus has reportedly been passed from a person to an animal. Importantly, to date, there is no known evidence of the virus passing from pets to humans.

4How do you get access to pet food during lockdown if you’re housebound?

Lots of the larger supermarkets are running low on pet foods but lots of our supporters have reported being able to get food in smaller shops and local supermarkets so if you or a relative can get out to buy food it is worth trying to smaller shops first.

There are many online retailers that are continuing to deliver like PetsAtHome however we're seeing a lot of the food items people need are out of stock and taking a long time to arrive. One of the local pet foods shops we're encouraging people to use is Pets Pantry who are delivering throughout York. You can call them on 01904 620527 to place an order over the phone.

5How to look after your pet if you pass away.

Firstly you should discuss this with your family members or friends and try to arrange a plan on what would happen to your pet in the result of your death. Make sure to discuss things like medication, food and exercise as well as information about what your pet likes as it will be a distressing time for them as well. It can help to write this information down and keep it in an obvious and visible place. You can use this Emergency Pet Care card which we recommend you place in a visable place like on your fridge.

Emergency Pet Care Card

If you live alone or your family are unable to help then we would recommend you include provision in your will. We would recommend you include the suggested wording in your Will as this means that any arrangements in relation to your pet will formally recognise the RSPCA:

“I give [any pet animal I own at my death] [define the animal] [and _____ pounds] [and _______ percent / the whole of my residuary estate] to the RSPCA York, Harrogate and District Branch of Landing Lane, York, YO264RH (registered charity no 232222) for its general purposes and I direct that once [any pet animal I own at my death][defined animal] is delivered to the RSPCA it shall take over full responsibility for the animal and seek to place it in a suitable home if possible. The receipt of the honorary treasurer or other appropriate officer of the RSPCA for the time being shall be a good discharge of my Executors.”

You don't have to use this wording as long as your wishes are clearly stated in your Will and you have included the charity name and registered charity number, your Executor should have all the information they need, but it’s always a good idea to check with your legal adviser.

Finally the York Animal Home and Age UK York run a partnership project called Keep Your Pet, which is designed to help look after your pets should you be temporarily unable to do so. Keep Your Pet is continuing to support the health and welfare of vulnerable people in York through this crisis All enquiries for a new service or urgent requirement should be made to Keep Your Pet on 01904 866070

6Should I try to keep my cat indoors?

Recent news reports may have left pet owners feeling particularly concerned about their cats and the possible impact of Covid-19 on their furry friends, but we're reassuring owners that the risk is incredibly small.

If you are ill and self-isolating with the virus or someone else in your house is, then we are advising that if your cat is happy to stay in and is used to using a litter tray then keeping them in may be advisable. If they go outside a lot then try to minimise interactions and wash your hands afterwards. We do not recommend keeping a cat inside who is used to going out as this may cause stress and potentially serious health problems.

7What do I do if my pet is unwell?

If your pet is poorly or you have any concerns about their health, please phone your vet for advice. It is important not to take them to the practice unless you are told to do so. If your vet is not open then you should see if there is a message online or phone the practice and see if there is information on the answerphone advising them where to go. If these options do not work, you can use the online RCVS "find a vet" tool. Please note that vets have been advised to provide emergency care only so please be understanding of these limitations.

8How to keep your Dog entertained during the lockdown?

Mental stimulation is a great way to keep your dog entertained and occupied so you can keep your dog happy by replacing exercise with other activities until you are able to take them back out for their usual walks.

Try challenging your pooch at tea time - ditch the food bowl and feed Fido using a Kong or a food puzzle to get them thinking.  Play, play, play! Most dogs love to play so set aside some time to have a good game of fetch or tug with your pooch.  Learning a new trick or command is great mental stimulation for a dog. Get out their favourite treats and try teaching your dog how to wave his paw, 'sit', 'lie down' or 'roll-over'.

Get him sniffing - scent work can be a great way to keep them busy for ages! Hide treats around the garden or around the house and send them off in search of them. If you feed your dog kibble this can be a great way to serve them their meals!

Remember toilet breaks - remember your dog will still need to go outside to use the toilet so make sure they get regular access to the garden to potter, sniff and wee.

Spotify has recently launched 'My Dog's Favourite Podcast' which has a range of carefully selected spoken word, sound and original music designed to encourage relaxation.

9How to keep your Cat entertained during the lockdown?

  • Provide a litter tray in a quiet place; clean it regularly. Cats are often reluctant to use a dirty tray or one located in a busy area.
  • Ensure your cat has enough space. Indoor-only cats should have access to several rooms.
  • Allow your cat access to a minimum of two types of resting places, one at floor level, enclosed on three sides and another higher one with a good view - this should be safe for your cat to access.
  • Provide scratching posts in several locations so they can mark territory, strengthen muscles and sharpen claws.
  • Provide opportunities for daily exercise to stay fit and healthy.
  • Provide/create new ways for your cat to stay active, both physically and mentally. Cats can become frustrated and bored with indoor-only lifestyles.
  • As your cat won't have the freedom to interact with people/other animals outside, you become their main companion; make plenty of time to interact.
  • You shouldn't leave cats alone for long periods during the day.

10Should I get a puppy during lockdown?

Getting a puppy at any time is both exciting and daunting. With their seemingly boundless energy and ability to find joy in everything, it is rare to find someone who won't smile or feel happy in their presence and it is easy to understand why they might be perceived as the perfect antidote to the current crisis we are all experiencing. However, they don¿t stay young for long and, regardless of age, are reliant on you and your family to help guide them and provide everything they need to keep them happy and healthy for the rest of their life. This is a significant responsibility and commitment and one which no-one should take lightly.

You may have lots of time now but what about when everything goes back to normal? It's important to think about your previous lifestyle and whether you would have been able to get a puppy at that point. As well as being wonderful and very rewarding in many ways, puppies are messy, noisy, destructive and very demanding of time and energy on a daily basis, They can also be very costly so prospective owners need to consider whether they are prepared for all this. If the answer is no then getting a puppy - especially now - is probably not a good idea.


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About Us

We are primarily self-funding and the money we spend in York is raised in York and Harrogate and surrounding areas. Income is also generated by our charity shops in Goodramgate, York, Acomb and Selby.

Find out more

RSPCA York, Harrogate & District Branch

RSPCA York Animal Home
Landing Lane, YORK
YO26 4RH


Opening times:
Monday - Sunday 11:00 - 15:00Please note that the York Animal Home is closed to the public and all visits are by appointment only for potential adopters.

RSPCA York ShopRSPCA YorkCharity ShopGBPMonday to Saturday 9:00am - 4:30pm Sunday 10:00am - 4:00pm
5B, Goodramgate, York
Telephone: 01904 466140

RSPCA Acomb ShopRSPCA AcombCharity ShopGBPMonday to Saturday 9:00am - 4:30pm Sunday 10:00am - 4:00pm
43 York Road, Acomb
Telephone: 01904 788616

RSPCA Selby ShopRSPCA SelbyCharity ShopGBPMonday to Saturday 9:00am - 4:30pm Sunday 10:00am - 4:00pm
3 New Lane, Selby
Telephone: 01757 707100

RSPCA Malton ShopRSPCA MaltonCharity ShopGBPTEMPORARY: Mon/Tues - CLOSED Wednesday: 9.30am - 4.30pm Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun - CLOSED
10 Saville Street, Malton
Telephone: 01653 918000

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