Can your pets contract and transmit COVID-19? Here's what we know

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- These days when many of us are spending most of our time inside our homes or in our backyards, having a pet around can be therapeutic.

It occupies the children who are out of school and it calms the adults.

But what about that pet when it comes to COVID-19?

On Tuesday, Patra Payseur of Raleigh visited Creedmoor Road Animal Hospital with her puppy Cleo.

She got the little dog a few months ago after the beagle who belonged to her and her late husband died.

"I needed the company, and she's great," she said of Cleo as the dog whined while tucked in her arm.

She said in times of anxiety, like these, her relationship with Cleo is one of the most important in her life.

"She's right up there at the top," Payseur said.

So when COVID-19 started making news, Payseur thought about Cleo and wondered, "If it could affect animals, if she could get it from a person or a person could get it from her."

She didn't have to wonder long.

The folks at Creedmoor Road Animal Hospital recently sent out information to their clients explaining what they had learned from the AVMA (American Veterinary Medicine Association).

A vet at the clinic, Dr. Karina Ballester, also has a master's degree in public health so she has a special curiosity about COVID-19.

"As of right now, there is nothing to make us think it could be transmitted to dogs and cats or that they could transmit it to other humans," she told ABC11.

That was a relief to Neal Woodlief, who was at Dr. Ballester's office Tuesday with his dog Bennie.

"We feel a lot better about the situation at least with our pets. Now we've got to worry about ourselves," Woodlief said.

He said he's been doing that by practicing social distancing.

That means no more visits to the dog park, he said.

"Also in walking the dogs around the neighborhood, used to you've got your little group of dogs and he sees friends here and there," Woodlief said. "You usually greet them and walk up and now maybe it's more of a wave and how are you doing."

But like just about everything else with this virus, the experts have to hedge.

So if you get the virus, the AVMA recommends you still take cautions just in case.

"We can limit contact not just with people but also with pets because our pets will therefore interact with other people," Ballester said. "It's one way in which we can stop the spread of the virus."

So the answer with pets is they are in the clear -- probably.

"What's so scary is we don't know," Payseur said. "You know it's such an unknown. Whereas with the flu, we kind of know what to do. But with this nobody knows. And, you know, anything can happen."

And that's why at Creedmoor Road Animal Hospital they aren't taking any chances.

During our crew's visit, the staff was constantly disinfecting for the good of humans and -- just in case - animals, too.
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