Coronavirus: have you made plans for your horse?

The RSPCA is encouraging horse owners to think about how they will care for their animals in the event they need to self-isolate.

The animal charity is suggesting horse owners speak to friends with horses about buddying up to help each other in the event of illness or self-isolation.

Dr Mark Kennedy, equine specialist at the RSPCA said: “We know the horse community is amazingly supportive and that owners often pitch in to help each other out. “It’s probably a good idea for horse owners to have a chat with their horse owning friends and put plans in place to cope if someone falls ill or needs to self-isolate.

“If someone is unwell or asked to self-isolate the last thing they need is the stress of worrying about who is going to look after their horses, so a quick chat with friends now could reduce that worry.”

While there’s no current evidence to suggest that animals can be carriers of Covid-19 or can become ill from it themselves, your horse and other pets may be impacted if you or any members of your family test positive for the virus or are asked to stay at home and self-isolate.

Tips to keep your horses happy and healthy
• If you haven’t tested positive or been asked to self-isolate then continue to interact with your horses as normal, but good advice at any time, not specific to the Coronavirus situation, is to adopt good hygiene practices including washing hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after touching them and any shared yard items such as wheelbarrows, brooms and forks. Avoid being licked by your horse.
• Ensure you have sufficient supplies of feed and any medication needed.
• Although you won’t be able to take your horse beyond your land if you’re self-isolating, aim to ensure your horse is kept happy with sufficient exercise and stimulation, if possible increasing turnout, amending feeding accordingly and try providing any existing stable toys to keep his mind occupied as much as possible.
• Speak to your vet or doctor for more advice.

If you have been diagnosed with Covid-19 Inform your local health protection team that there is a pet in the household. They will liaise with the relevant animal health authorities. Current advice is to restrict contact with pets as much as possible as a precautionary animal health measure. If you do need to interact with your pet, wash your hands before and after any interaction with them and wear a face mask if possible. If your pet shows signs of ill health, please do not take them to the vet. Contact your local health protection team for advice. Remember these are precautionary measures and there is currently no evidence that pets can spread coronavirus or become unwell.

General Note: There are many different types of coronavirus and some can cause disease in different species of animals. These are NOT the same as Covid 19 and do not spread to, or cause disease in people. These different coronaviruses can cause disease in the specific species they infect, usually this manifests gastrointestinal signs which can be managed with supportive treatment. There is no risk to humans or other species.