Pets and Covid-19 in France: FAQs and vet care rules

Animal groups have issued advice on how to best take care of your pet during Covid-19 and confinement

A full list of when it is still permitted to take your pet to the vet in France, receive veterinary care, and how to take care of your domestic pet during the time of Covid-19 confinement - has been published.

One list from national veterinary group l’Ordre National des Vétérinaires (ONV) specifically details procedures and appointments that should be postponed until after the confinement period ends, as well as those considered to be an emergency, and which cannot be postponed.

Pet care FAQs

French animal welfare charity la SPA has also published a list of frequently-asked-questions about the care of pets during this time.

We have translated some of the key questions below (translated and edited for length and clarity by Connexion).

The full list of questions is on the SPA website here

  • Can animals get Covid-19 or pass it on?

No. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that there is no evidence to suggest that pets can spread the virus. There was one case of a dog having been infected with a mutated form of Covid-19 in Hong Kong, but there is no evidence that this could spread to humans, or vice versa.

  • What precautions should I take to protect my pet? 

You should protect your pet, and it should stay with you in your property during confinement, like any other member of your household. You should try to avoid your pet becoming injured, catching fleas, or getting any other health conditions, as vets are not as accessible as in normal times.

However, confinement rules do allow you to walk your pet and allow them out of the house, so there is no need for them to relieve themselves indoors, or to stay inside all day.

When walking your dog, avoid coming into contact with others (staying at least two metres away), and avoid it from having direct contact with other dogs. After coming home, you must wash your hands.

  • Can I let my cat out of the house?

Technically, yes, but the SPA recommends that you do not. This is not because cats can spread the virus - they cannot - but to avoid them from becoming injured, or injuring other cats or dogs; or even from becoming lost and requiring rescue during this time.

  • Can I only walk my dog once a day?

The confinement rules state that you are allowed to leave your property, within a radius of 1km from your home and within a time limit of one hour, to take exercise and/or to walk your dog.

The SPA advises that this 1 hour time limit can be split into three outings of 20 minutes, to allow your dog to go out more frequently if necessary.

  • If I go into hospital, what should I do with my pet? 

The SPA is working to provide help for people in this situation, and you are invited to contact them if you need help. 

Currently, it advises pet owners to do everything they can to ensure that their pet will be looked after in their absence, including contacting friends, family, or neighbours who may be able to help. 

As long as the time limits, confinement rules and sanitary advice are respected, this would be seen as an acceptable reason for them to leave their house.

You can also contact your local Mairie for advice, who may call for assistance from a local kennel or cattery to take care of your pet in your absence, as a last resort.

In some parts of the country, local animal charities are mounting volunteer efforts to help, so they may also be a useful contact - both for people whose pets need looking after, and for people looking to volunteer to help care for someone’s pet while the owner is in hospital.

Read more: Covid-19: French charity cares for pets of key staff and hospital patients 

Read more: France official confinement Q&A: English translation

  • Do I need to have my pet put down or leave it? 

Absolutely not. Abandoning animals, or engaging in an act of cruelty towards them for whatever reason, is punished by law in France - by up to two years in prison, and a fine of €30,000.

Offenders can also be banned from owning animals for up to five years.

  • I arranged to adopt a pet before the confinement period. Can I still do so?

All new adoptions are currently postponed until further notice, but if you had already confirmed an adoption prior to this period, it may still go ahead, depending on your local SPA.

Adoptions may still happen at the discretion of local refuges, the SPA has said, depending on circumstances and if this can be done without breaking confinement rules or endangering the lives of others. You are invited to contact your local refuge for more details.

A full list of questions, including information on how SPA refuges and kennels are being run during this time, and how you may be able to help nearby refuges, can be seen on the SPA website (in French).

Advice for vets and their clients

The ONV information also reminds vets that they should limit their own movements, and those of their clients, as much as possible. It says that as much as possible, vets should contact clients over telephone or video call, and postpone any non-urgent treatments and appointments.

It said that in the case of any urgent home visits for pets, vets must take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus - especially if the pet owner is an at-risk individual, such as elderly, or with underlying health conditions.

The release said: “[We] call on each veterinarian to do a risk assessment before deciding to take care of an animal, and to not underestimate the risks. Protect yourselves and be safe.”

The list also includes separate conditions for horses, and farm animals. The complete information can be seen on the ONV website here.

The full ONV list for domestic pets is as follows:

Vet care that should be postponed:

  • Consultation within the framework of a normal health check-up
  • Various health assessments (e.g. geriatric), or biological tests to detect a condition that has not yet expressed clinical signs
  • Periodic monitoring of chronic conditions when the animal is stable
  • Castration or ovariectomy
  • Any elective, non-urgent surgery
  • Descaling or teeth cleaning not related to a serious oral disease
  • Detection of hereditary or congenital disease in an asymptomatic animal
  • An old or chronic condition that does not affect the life expectancy or welfare of the animal.

Vet care that cannot be postponed:

  • An animal suffering trauma / injury from an accident
  • Acute, life-threatening conditions
  • Conditions whose short-, medium- or even long-term repercussions will significantly reduce the animal's comfort and life expectancy.
  • Management of populations at high risk of infection (shelters, kennels, farms)

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Confinement form links:

  • Main form for individuals and self-employed people: Download
  • Form for salaried workers going to their place of work, to be filled in and signed by the employer: Download
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