Sarge (cq), 6-month-old male labrador mix dog at PAWS Chicago Medical Center in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood.

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With the new coronavirus at pandemic level, we’re all asked to take greater precautions to limit the spread. Working from home, self-isolation, social distancing and washing hands help keep humans safe. But what about our pets? Can they catch it? Can they transmit it? Several health organizations have issued advisories regarding COVID-19 and our pets.

According to the CDC, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some can cause illness in people and some in animals. In rare cases coronaviruses that infect animals can also infect humans (think SARS and MERS). While it’s thought that the current COVID-19 outbreak started with an animal to human transmission (the first infections were linked to a live animal market), the exact source of the virus is still unknown and the current spread appears to be human to human only. The CDC states, “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 or that they might be a source of infection in the United States.”

The World Health Organization states, “While there has been one instance of a dog being infected in Hong Kong, to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19.” And this from the World Health Organization for Animal Health, “COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.” At present, “there is no evidence that dogs play a role in the spread of this human disease or that they become sick. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19 virus.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association notes the risk of picking up the virus from your pet is low. “Smooth (non-porous) surfaces (e.g., countertops, door knobs) transmit viruses better than porous materials (e.g., paper money, pet fur) because porous, especially fibrous, materials absorb and trap the pathogen (virus), making it harder to contract through simple touch.”

If you become sick, or suspect you’ve been infected, limit physical contact with your pet. Have someone else provide for your pet’s care if possible. Avoid letting your pet lick you, and don’t hug, kiss or share food. Wear a mask when interacting with them and wash your hands before and after handling your pet, their food and toys.

If you’re healthy but stuck at home due to layoffs and social distancing mandates, you can enjoy time with your pet as normal. We’re lucky to live in a rural setting where we can enjoy the outdoors with our dogs while maintaining social distance. Take a stroll through campus now that finals are done (no people around). Find a little used trail or hiking area to get some exercise. Play games at home in back yard. Spend a few minutes a day training something new. If you’re trying to work from home, buy some new toys and food puzzles to keep Fido busy while you’re working.

While there is no need for panic buying, it’s a good idea to have a few weeks of food and supplies for your pets. Luckily, you don’t need to leave home to purchase pet supplies and you can help local businesses at the same time.

Ellensburg Pet Center has delivery service. Old Mill Country Store and Ranch and Home in Ellensburg can take your order over the phone and will bring it to your car. The Whole Pet Shop in Roslyn offers home delivery to Cle Elum, Roslyn, Ronald and Suncadia. Jeb’s Pet Supply is partnering with a delivery company to offer home delivery as well.

If you need to take your dog to the veterinarian or refill their medications, call ahead to learn if they have new protocols to ensure social distancing. Your veterinary staff want to stay safe as well and will work with you to provide procedures, vaccinations and medications in as safe a manner as possible.

Because this outbreak is an evolving situation, it’s important to stay informed. Check regularly with the CDC, WHO and other government websites for accurate and up to date information. Contact your veterinarian and your physician if you suspect that you or your pet has been exposed to the virus.

Lori Morrison is a certified professional dog trainer and owner of Waggin” Tails Ranch in Ellensburg. She can be reached at


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