Can my dog get the coronavirus? A vet weighs in

As Americans across the country continue to practice social distancing and choose to self-quarantine in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, many are wondering: how will my pet be affected?

Yahoo Lifestyle sat down with Dr. Lisa Lippman, founder of Vets in the City, to find out what pet owners need to know during the coronavirus outbreak.

“The question I’m being asked most frequently is ‘Will my pet’s health be affected by the coronavirus?’” says Dr. Lippman.

“The good news is that at this time there is no evidence to support that animals can become infected with the human coronavirus,” she says. “But things are changing rapidly and it’s really important to get your information from reputable sources,” she adds.

Many pet owners are also concerned that their pet could be a carrier of the coronavirus, which Dr. Lippman says may not be unfounded.

“Just as other surfaces or other things you come into contact with can carry the coronavirus it’s possible that the virus can live on our pets,” she explains.

For example, if an infected person touches your pet the virus could live on their fur, possibly spreading to others who touch them.

“Things that you can do to take action and keep everybody around them and your pet safe would be to bathe them more frequently, prevent them from kissing your face as much as we love them right now and wash your hands before and after you come into contact with them,” says Dr. Lippman.

She adds that it might be best to ask others not to pet your dog until the outbreak ends. “It may seem a little rude at the time, but you’ll probably be thankful later,” she says.

Being prepared is also important during the outbreak, and Dr. Lippman has some advice about stocking up in case there’s a situation where you’re unable to leave your home.

“Have about a month of supplies on-hand,” she says. “That doesn’t mean buying the entire store, but stock up for about a month. That means a month’s worth of medication, a month’s worth of food for your pet and even having some new toys or puzzle toys—things keep them mentally and physically stimulated,” she adds.

Dr. Lippman also emphasizes that while it’s still safe to walk your dog outside, people should continue to follow the rules of social distancing to minimize their risk of getting sick.

Should your pet experience an emergency during the outbreak, Dr. Lippman says to check with your vet to make sure they’re still operating as usual, which most are at this time.

“You can also see if your veterinarian does house calls like I do,” Dr. Lippman suggests. “That will limit your exposure and limit your pet’s exposure to anybody else, and you can continue to practice social distancing,” she adds.

If you do have to bring your pet into your vet’s office for medical attention, Dr. Lippman reminds all owners to upfront with their vet about their own medical condition.

“If you’re not feeling well, please let your veterinarian know ahead of time so that they don’t put anyone else in jeopardy,” she says.

For the latest news on the evolving coronavirus outbreak, follow along here. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC and WHO’s resource guides. 

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