AT this stage, no pets have been infected with the covid-19 virus.

Since the virus can survive on surfaces, it might be present on their hair, feet, collars and leads.

If an animal has been in contact with an infected person, they could carry the virus around for a few hours to days.

Specialists at Wear Referrals have told us: “The current recommendation is to keep pets away from infected people and to confine the pets of infected people with them. In these stressful times, our pets can be a great source of comfort and company, so we wouldn’t suggest they are locked away or don’t receive exercise. However, they should be recognised as a potential carrier of virus particles and people should observe normal hygienic principles when handling pets by hand washing before and after interacting with them. It would be sensible to avoid stroking or touching animals from outside of your own household because they may have been in contact with a person infected with the virus.”

They went on to give us some further advice: “Inside your own home, if a member of the household is affected with covid-19 and other occupants are not necessarily infected, your pet should not mix between people - an animal could carry the virus between rooms and people within the house, just like any shared item.”

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons is the governing body of the veterinary profession and it has been responding to public concern regarding the care of their pets in the coming weeks, issuing regularly updated advice to vets nationally who have now been told to only see the most urgent emergencies to minimise human transmission of the virus.

If you have an emergency or concern regarding your pet, contact your vet as normal in the first instance for telephone triage and then follow the advice that you are given. If you have to take your pet to the vet, be prepared to stay in your car/outside and communicate largely by telephone, only handing your pet over to a member of staff at the door and maintaining a distance.

Vets want to help you and your pets at this challenging time but must work within the national guidelines that have been developed. As the specialists at Wear told us, ‘We are all in this together’.