While there is belief that COVID-19 mutated from an animal — likely a bat — the virus is species-specific, according to Los Angeles-based veterinarian Dr. Jeff Werber, meaning dogs and cats cannot get sick from it.
“The dog won’t get sick, the cat won’t get sick. However, the virus particles can live on them for awhile,” Werber said.
The lifespan of those particles is why owners need to take precautions, Weber said.
“If the virus particles is on the dog, and say that dog licks a person’s hands who is infected and then comes and licks you in the face, like dogs like to do, then it is possible it could be transmitted,” Werber explained.
In order to limit contagion, Weber said social distancing should also be extended to pets. Owners walking their dogs should try and stay away from other people and their dogs on walks, avoid dog parks, doggy daycares and limit or stop trips to the groomers.
Werber said animal hospitals and veterinarians are also limiting the number of pets they are seeing.
“I heard at one hospital the nurse is going out to the car, taking the dog from the car and bringing it to the hospital, and you don’t even get to go into the office,” he explained.
Weber also urged pet owners to keep animals clean through bathing, and also suggested holding off on elective procedures including spay and neutering.