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Dr. Shawn Messonnier, a veterinarian at Paws and Claws Animal hospital in Plano, has received several calls from pet owners concerned about how novel coronavirus might affect their animals. Messonnier said most owners are worried their pets may contract the virus and be symptomatic.

But according to the veterinarian, pets are generally safe from being infected with the virus.

Messonnier said novel coronavirus is a "people virus," and dogs and cats are probably not at risk of becoming infected.  

“It’s unlikely the pet will become infected and serve as a source of infection for people,” Messonnier said.

However, it is possible for animals to serve as fomites, which are objects that carry the virus.

“If your pet is in the house with someone with the virus, it can act as a carrier. The animal's body can serve as what's called a fomite, just like a table or a chair, or a handshake or an article of clothing,” Messonnier said. “The animal isn't infected, but the animal becomes contaminated because someone's not washing their hands or they're sneezing on their pets. There is a risk of transmission that way.”

According to Messonnier, dogs and cats contract different coronaviruses that are unique to them. Messonnier said the diseases “will not infect people and contribute to the current spread of the human disease.”

As a precaution, Messonnier said pet owners should keep their animals away from infected individuals and bathe or wipe down the pet’s coat.

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