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Can I walk my dog if I am self-isolating?

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Government advice regarding self-isolating rules has changed frequently throughout the pandemic, and in the most recent update, it was declared that self-isolation is no longer a compulsory measure.

However, according to the Office of National Statistics [ONS], around 7 in 10 people who tested positive for COVID-19 said they would isolate even if not legally required.

What we’re allowed to do and what we are advised to do might sound contradictory, and those with dogs might be feeling anxious about how to give their pet the best care while choosing to isolate.

But can you leave your home to walk your dog while self-isolating, and can your pets catch COVID-19?

It’s natural to be concerned for our furry friends during uncertain times, so with this in mind, the team at Go Walkies have put together some helpful advice to ensure both you and your four-legged friends stay safe while recovering from COVID-19.

If you test positive with COVID-19

So, you’ve tested positive for coronavirus, what’s next?

While you are no longer required by law to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19, the NHS still advises us to stay home and avoid contact with other people in order to reduce the spread of the virus.

Tips to stop the spread amongst humans have been drilled into us for the past two years, but dog owners could be wondering about the possibility of their pet contracting the virus.

Rest assured, there have been a very small number of reports worldwide, of pets contracting the virus from their owners.

If you are positive, or are displaying symptoms [persistent cough, high temperature, and loss or change to your taste and smell are most common] it’s best to avoid direct contact. This could include petting, playing, grooming, snuggling, being kissed or licked, or sharing food.

You should also avoid indirect contact, so try not to touch items or food that your animal will encounter.

Taking extra precautions

Even if you’re only self-isolating due to another member of your household testing positive for COVID-19, you should still try and avoid contact with your pet where possible.

Whether you have a positive or negative test result, there are a number of extra steps you can take to ensure your dog has a clean and safe environment to enjoy, and good hygiene is crucial.

If you do need to interact with them, wash your hands before and after. This also applies to bedding, leads, and accessories, so consider following the Government’s COVID-19 cleaning guide when looking after your pet.

Remember to wipe your dog’s face and coat if you touch them without prior washing of your hands, but keep in mind, your dog’s skin is more sensitive than humans. This means you’ll need to ensure the product you’re using isn’t harmful to them, and some brands, such as MalAcetic, offer antibacterial wipes specifically for pets’ coat and skin.

After touching any surface or accessory for your dog, use a disposable wipe to clean the area. If you don’t have any wipes, and no-one can bring any to you, the next best thing is a clean damp cloth and antibacterial spray.

However, it’s important to remember that antibacterial sprays can irritate your dog’s skin and, worst case scenario, potentially lead to toxic poisoning. The best way to avoid this is to:

  • Keep pets away from the area you’ve cleaned until it’s dry, including their collar and lead.
  • Avoid using antibacterial products around their eating area and stick to hot water and dish soap for their food bowls.
  • Ensure the cleaning products are kept safe and secure to discourage curious sniffing.

Taking the dog for a walk if you have COVID

Coronavirus aside, dogs still need to go outside to use the toilet, and will need regular access to the garden, or a safe, outdoor area. However, to avoid disruptions to their routine and provide mental stimulation, they will still need a walk to burn off their excess energy.

Although you’re not required to self-isolate anymore, if you test positive for coronavirus, it’s still best to stay home, particularly if you feel unwell, and then make a plan for the welfare of your pets.

If possible, arrange for a for a friend or family member to take the dog out for you. If this isn’t an option, then consider a professional dog walker. You can find walkers in your local area using the Go Walkies mobile app.

Whichever option you choose, make sure you notify anyone caring for your pets on your behalf in advance that you’re self-isolating, and arrange a no-contact collection where possible.

Before the friend, family member, or dog walker arrives, wash your hands, clean any surfaces, and make sure the dog has been wiped. You should also ensure their lead and collar have been appropriately disinfected.

If you absolutely must open the door, wear a face covering to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, but try to stay in another room where possible.

Check in advance that your walker is happy to enter your home and collect your dog, or if you are using the Go Walkies mobile app, consider utilising our no-contact service.

Taking the dog for a walk with a negative test

If a family member has tested positive for COVID-19, but you have tested negative, you can still leave the house to take your dog for a walk.

To keep yourself and others safe, you should consider walking the dog at less populated times of the day, such as early in the morning, or later in the evening.

You should wash your hands before leaving the house, and ensure the dog is also clean. It would also be a good idea to take some hand sanitiser with you, just in case you need to touch anything while on your walk.

As an extra precaution, you could keep your dog on the lead to avoid the temptation from other people to pet them whilst you’re out. Doing this will also reduce or limit the possibility of you being in close contact with another dog owner.

Once you’ve finished your walk, wash your hands again, and give the dog and their accessories a good clean to make sure you’re both clean and free of the virus.


The main takeaway here is to stay at home where possible when you test positive for COVID-19 to help limit the spread of the virus.

There are several options available for dog owners choosing to self-isolate due to coronavirus, so your dog can still be happy and well cared for despite a positive test result.

If you’re unsure of what’s out there, contact your vet to see what options might be available to you, or contact a member of the GoWalkies team at [email protected] to find out more about our services.