COVID-19: self isolation and animals

With the new self-isolation requirements introduced by the Government on March 14th, many more people will be self-isolating for 14 days after returning to New Zealand.

Here are some recommendations from the NZVA on steps you can take to effectively care for your animals during the self-isolation period.

For companion animal owners:

  • Make sure you have adequate supplies of food and medications for your pets.
  • Delay any routine, non-urgent veterinary appointments.
  • If your animal does need urgent veterinary attention, inform the clinic they are coming from a home where somebody is self-isolating, so veterinary staff can also take appropriate precautions for themselves and within the clinic.
  • Please ask someone else to present the animal to your veterinary clinic on your behalf BUT be available by phone so veterinary staff can contact you if needed.
  • In some cases, it may be possible for your veterinarian to conduct a telemedicine consultation, e.g. via video-call. This will be up to each clinic to determine if it is feasible – please consult with them first.
  • Thoroughly wash hands before and after interacting with them, and when handling food, supplies or equipment they might contact.
  • Avoid close contact, e.g. hugging, or letting your pets touch/lick your face or sleep on beds.
  • Don't remove pets from your property (e.g. send to family/friends/boarding facilities), if they have interacted with you since you started self-isolation.
  • There is still only very limited evidence companion animals such as cats and dogs can become infected with COVID-19, and no evidence they can transmit the infection to other humans or animals, but a cautious approach is still recommended.

For farm staff:

  • If you have veterinary visits scheduled or need an urgent visit, please inform your clinic you are self-isolating and unable to attend the visit.
  • Please ensure someone else is available to assist your veterinarian and be available by phone in case more information is required from you at the time of the visit.
  • If required to interact with your animals, then practice sensible hygiene measures, e.g. thorough hand washing before and after contact.
  • Don't remove animals that might have been exposed to at-risk people from the property until the self-isolation period is over.
  • Check MPI's website for their most up to date advice.
  • For all animal owners: please be mindful the self-isolation requirements may affect your veterinary clinic as well! Therefore, your clinic may need to prioritise the most urgent cases ahead of routine appointments, due to reduced staff capacity. Please understand your veterinary team will be doing their utmost to maintain the wellbeing of your animals during this time.