ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – There is no evidence currently to suggest that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Pets have other types of coronaviruses that can make them sick, like canine and feline coronaviruses. These other coronaviruses cannot infect people and are not related to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Anne Hale, president of the New Mexico Veterinary Medical Association, said less than 200 animals in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and in those situations, most of them were housed with humans whose whole family tested positive for COVID-19. “It takes really close, intensive and frequent exposure in order to be able to pass this virus from a human to an animal,” Hale said. “But we do make a strong recommendation that if you think that you’re sick with COVID, you let someone else care for your pet during that period and that you wear a mask.”

So far, no animal in New Mexico has been diagnosed with the virus. Cats appear to be more susceptible than dogs, Hale said. Both cats and dogs seem to show the upper respiratory issues like coughing and sneezing in addition to fever. She said some wild animals also appear to be susceptible to contracting the virus such as weasels, ferrets and mink.

Hale said that because of some early-on misconceptions about how the virus spreads, people were getting rid of their pets to avoid getting sick. “There is not a documented case worldwide where an animal gave this to a person. Some people were afraid that they needed to get rid of their animals because of this, but I just want to stress again that it’s not part of the back-and-forth in this virus. People can give it to their pets, but the pets won’t give that to a person,” Hale said.

If pets do become sick, Hale said it’s important that they see a veterinarian, even though the likelihood of them having COVID-19 is low. “It’s important to keep your pet close by and make sure you care for them during this time period,” Hale said.

The Center for Disease Control discourages pet owners from taking their pets to dog parks, as there is a risk that people with COVID-19 could spread it to animals. The same goes for taking pets to the groomers or daycare.