COVID-19 & Pet Care Businesses: The Essential Guide

2020 might be almost over, but the effects of COVID-19 aren’t slowing down. Everyone has felt the impact of the coronavirus in one way or another. As a pet care business owner, you likely feel frustrated, concerned, and anxious. You might also feel grateful. In most states, pet care is an essential service. This is great news for pet parents and pet care staff. Pet parents rely on safe pet care businesses like yours to care for their pets when they can’t. And pet-care staff rely on a steady income, which is hard to come by for others during the pandemic.

Even though your pet-care business can remain open, social distancing conditions and an overall sense of fear directly impact your operations. As ever, your highest priority is the safety of your staff and customers. In this guide, we’ll discuss pet-care business concerns relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and our recommendations for how your business can operate safely.

How to Operate a Pet-Care Business During COVID-19

Stay up-to-date on local laws and regulations. Social distancing orders and their impact on businesses change frequently, and you must stay current with the most up-to-date information. The earlier you know about new regulations, the faster you can adapt operations. Here are some suggestions:
  • Follow the local news. While it’s tempting to stick to national news, crucial information like closures and safety regulations come from your local government.
  • Set up notifications to receive instant updates in your area. You can do this through Google Alerts, social media feeds or subscribing to your local news station’s email or SMS alert system.
Set up an emergency communications plan. In the case of an abrupt closure or safety policy change, you need to quickly communicate with your staff and pet parents. Write a few template email messages, and save them as drafts. If the emergency happens, you can quickly adjust and send without the anxiety of coming up with a message in the heat of the moment. You need to prepare to:
  • Communicate to staff the new policy. If it’s reduced hours, convey how you’ll handle payroll. If it’s new safety procedures, explain what they need to bring to work and what will be supplied.
  • Communicate to clients. If there are new safety regulations, alert your clients so they can come prepared or make new arrangements for their pets.
  • Communicate with pet boarding clients. In the case of closure, notify pet boarding clients to pick up their long-term guests.
Consult your pet-care business plan. When you first came up with your pet-care business idea, you created a pet-care business plan to detail everything from pricing and budgeting to day-to-day operations and marketing. Your business plan lays out how your business will profit and provide value to pet-care clients. If your business plan has been effective, there’s a good chance you haven’t looked at it since. But, if there ever was a time to revisit your business plan, it’s when a pandemic rocks operations. Examine your business plan, considering these questions:
  • Are there areas where you can cut expenses to remain open during the pandemic?
  • Does your pet care business insurance include coverage for loss of business?
  • Can you stand out from your competitors during the pandemic by adjusting your cancellation policy and by marketing your new safety procedures?
Update emergency contact records. When you need to adjust operations quickly, you need instant access to client contact information. Your business plan likely includes strategies to stay efficient and productive by using pet-care management software. It’s crucial to quickly communicate the announcement to clients in the event of operational changes, an act that’s impossible without correct contact information. Reach out to your clients and ask them to review and update their contact information. If you already have pet care business management software, this process is easy. For example, you can:
  • Maintain client and pet information in one place.
  • Send notifications to clients asking them to review their contact information.
  • Provide clients with an online portal where they can update their records.
Improve hygiene and sanitation efforts. Since COVID-19 is transferable through the air, physical contact, and surface droplets, your pet care business must go above and beyond to keep staff and clients safe by increasing hygiene and sanitation efforts. To get you started, here are a few recommendations:
  • Make hand wash stations and hand sanitizer available and abundant for staff and clients.
  • Require employees to wash their hands for 20 seconds after each interaction with a client, staff member, or animal.
  • Increase sanitation procedures. Clean more frequently and target high-traffic areas such as break rooms, the lobby, phones, computers, pens, credit card terminals, and door handles.
  • Equip staff with face masks and personal protective equipment.
Practice social distancing. To keep staff and clients six feet apart, consider:
  • Lay tape on the lobby floor, indicating where clients should stand to remain six feet apart.
  • Schedule less staff per shift to make social distancing easier.
  • Stagger pick-up and drop-off to keep fewer people in the lobby. With pet-care business software, easily view the facility’s schedule and make changes as needed.
  • Offer contactless drop-off and pick-up. Send one masked staff member to pick up and drop off the pet while the pet parent remains in the car.
  • Offer contactless payment, i.e., digital card payments or punch-card programs (Both available through pet care business software.

COVID-19 and Pets: Frequently Asked Questions

Can pets spread COVID-19?

According to the CDC, the chances of an animal spreading COVID-19 are low, but it is wise to use caution. Wash your hands and maintain good hygiene after interacting with any living thing.

Can animals carry the virus on their skin or fur?

The CDC states that although specific bacteria and fungi can be carried on fur and hair, there is no evidence that viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread to people from the skin, fur, or hair of pets.

Can I take my pet to daycare or the groomer?

Please reference this information from the CDC:

Until we know more about how this virus affects animals, CDC encourages pet owners to treat pets as you would other human family members to protect them from possible infection This means limiting contact between your pets and people outside your household as much as possible and avoiding places where large numbers of people gather. Some areas are allowing groomers and boarding facilities such as dog daycares to open. If you must take your pet to a groomer or boarding facility, follow any protocols put into place at the facility, such as wearing a mask and maintaining at least 6 feet of space between yourself and others if possible. Limit pet items brought from home to the groomer or boarding facility, and disinfect any objects that are taken into a facility and returned home (such as leashes, bowls, and toys). Use an EPA-registered disinfectant to clean items and rinse thoroughly with clean water afterwards. Do not wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or other products, such as hand sanitizer, counter-cleaning wipes, or other industrial or surface cleaners. If you have questions about appropriate products for bathing or cleaning your pet, talk to your veterinarian. Do not put masks on pets, and do not take a sick pet to a groomer or boarding facility. Signs of sickness in dogs may include fever, coughing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, lethargy, sneezing, discharge from the nose or eyes, vomiting, or diarrhea. If you think your pet is sick, call your veterinarian. Some veterinarians may offer telemedicine consultations or other plans for seeing sick pets. Your veterinarian can evaluate your pet and determine the next steps for your pet’s treatment and care. Source: CDC.

For more information on pets and COVID-19, visit these resources: