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PETS & COVID: Tyler veterinarian recommends social distancing from pets if you're sick

If someone in your family is sick with COVID-19, a Tyler veterinarian recommends treating your pet like you would any other family member.

TYLER, Texas — We all love our pets, and right now we’re probably spending a little more time with them than we normally do.

 One question people are asking, can my pet get COVID-19?

As the number of Coronavirus cases surge, there have been reports of pets catching COVID-19 from their owners.

More than 20 dogs and cats have tested positive for COVID-19 nationwide. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, one cat and one dog have tested positive for the coronavirus in Texas.

“The interesting thing is that it does seem difficult to give it to your pets but not impossible,” Dr. Seth Shirey, of Starnes Animal Clinic in Tyler, said.

Dr. Shirey says although it’s possible for dogs and cats to test positive, they rarely show symptoms of the virus. 

“Some people have noted some coughing and some respiratory issues, but usually when we have tested a dog positive, we test them just because their owner has COVID-19 and they have wanted to see if their pet did but not because the dog or cat was showing symptoms," Dr. Shirey.

So far, research has shown the virus can only be spread from person-to-animal, not the other way around. 

So, is social distancing necessary and should your pet be wearing a mask?

Dr. Shirey says if you or someone in your family is showing symptoms or tests positive for the virus, keeping your distance could be in their best interest. 

“If you are sick, or you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, treat them [pets] like family members and do your best to social distance just like you would with your family members,” Dr. Shirey said. 

The CDC does not recommend your pet wear a mask, and while Dr. Shirey says it probably isn’t necessary, if your pet is willing to wear a mask it should be OK.

“I don't know that I would my own dog, but that doesn't mean that what I'm doing is right,” Dr. Shirey said. “If you're worried about it, if you have concerns, do it. Do your best to keep them social distanced. If your dog will tolerate the mask, do it. It's not gonna hurt anything, that's for sure.”

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