Washington State University researchers studying COVID-19 and pets

SPOKANE, Wash. – Many pet owners may be wondering if they can catch the coronavirus or pass it along to their pet.

Researchers at Washington State University have been working hard to find that answer.

“It certainly can occur but it’s not a common occurrence,” said Tim Baszler, Executive Director of The Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at WSU.

So far in the United States, there have been 200 animals tested for the virus.

“They’ve only found two positives for sure. Two cats and maybe one dog,” Baszler said.

39 of those animals were tested at Washington State University in Pullman. None of them tested positive.

However, just because the tests have been negative, doesn’t mean animals can’t catch the virus.

“The worry isn’t so much that humans are going to catch COVID-19 from their animals, it’s the other way,” said Baszler.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar of that in a human, with mostly a cough. It also appears to impact cats more than dogs.

“Dogs that have been naturally impacted from their human owners essentially have no clinical signs,” Baszler said.

So, how do you protect your furry friends from catching the virus?

“It’s the same practices that we practice with each other as humans,” said Baszler.

Meaning wash your hands often, try to keep your distance as much as possible, and even wear a mask when close to your pet.

Although the chances of passing COVID-19 to our pets is slim, Baszler believes this research is crucial.

“If we have another outbreak from another RNA virus like the coronavirus, hopefully we will have learned something this time that helps us deal with the next one,” he said.