Local veterinarians answer questions about pets and coronavirus

Posted at 8:03 PM, Mar 19, 2020

Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions here.

"Can my dog or cat catch the coronavirus?"

That's the question a lot of people in the Tri-State have been asking.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming infected with COVID-19, but local vets say if you contract the virus, you might want to let someone else take care of your dog or cat because doctors aren't yet certain if our pets can carry or spread the virus.

"You come into such close contact with your pets. You're snuggling with them all the time, and saliva -- my dog's constantly licking me," said College Hill Animal Hospital veterinarian Dr. Joseph Stratman.

As far as pets carrying the coronavirus and transferring it to others, "We haven't found that's true yet," Stratman said.

Stratman, who has been practicing for decades in College Hill, said it's possible the virus could live in an animal's fur, though.

"I suppose it's possible, but you should be doing major routine hygiene stuff anyway," he said. "If you're out there handling, petting your dog, but you're washing your hands regularly, you are not touching your face -- doing things you're supposed to be doing for general control anyway, your risk is minimal," he said.

The CDC is warning people to let others watch your pets if you get sick, but there's no evidence they can catch the virus from you.

"As far as we know, animals don't get the virus," Stratman said.

Veterinarians across the Tri-State are requiring customers to wait outside and are having animals brought into clinics by employees.

Most said they want pet owners to call before they show up at the facilities.