Veterinary practices will remain open only for emergency care and to maintain food supply chain, it has been confirmed.
Practices are remaining open to focus on emergency care and urgent treatment for animals while reducing face-to-face contact.
It follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement of new restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Under the measures announced on Monday 23 March, everyone is being instructed to stay at home and only go out for a small number of essential reasons including shopping for basic necessities and any medical need.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has advised that veterinary practices are considered essential services under the new measures, as vets deliver emergency care and work to maintain the food supply chain.
However, in the interests of safety and complying with government advice, practices will only be delivering emergency treatment and urgent care.
The body, which represents over 18,000 vets in the UK, said practices should be cancelling routine and non-urgent appointments.
Veterinary professionals are also insisting that animal owners comply with strict social distancing measures in order to keep clients and colleagues safe.
For animal owners, this will include calling the practice ahead of time for advice and may mean waiting outside while the animal is treated, the BVA said.
Owners have been urged to avoid contact and keep at least two metres apart from other people at all times.
Daniella Dos Santos, BVA President, said: “Practices are following strict social distancing measures and asking owners to make sure they follow the same steps in the interests of everyone’s safety.
"Please call your vet before attending a practice to get up to date advice on what measures they have in place to safely treat your pet in an emergency."
She added: “We appreciate that some pet owners may be frustrated that routine appointments are being cancelled, but these are vital measures to curb non-essential travel and contact and keep everyone as safe as possible during this challenging period."