Pets And COVID-19: What You Need To Know

Pets thumbnail
(Courtesy Sheila Brown)
Pets thumbnail
(Courtesy Sheila Brown)

Pets And COVID-19: What You Need To Know

Chicagoans have become familiar with how COVID-19 is spread from person to person and what types of safety measures they should be taking during this time.

But WBEZ has gotten several questions from pet owners who are wondering about the risks to their furry friends, things like—are cats and dogs susceptible to the virus and who will care for my pet if I get hospitalized with COVID-19?

Scientists recently confirmed the first cases of COVID-19 in domestic pets- two cats and two dogs. But science journalist David Grimm says researchers, at this stage, believe the risk of transmission is low because the cell biology of animals is so different from humans.

Still, there are precautions people need to take.

In this episode, we explore how to best care for your pets right now, what to do if a pet owner gets sick with the virus and how our furry companions may also be responding to the emotional stress their owners might be experiencing right now.

More about our questioner

Samuel Farbstein
(Courtesy Samuel Farbstein)

Dr. Samuel Farbstein is one of several people who asked WBEZ questions about pets and COVID-19. Samuel was wondering about whether his two dogs, J.C. and Benji, could possibly contract the virus and if they would be contagious if they did.

He’s an internist at DuPage Medical Group and has been reading all the medical literature about the novel coronavirus so he can up with his patients’ questions and concerns. He thinks J.C. and Benji sense he’s under an unusual kind of stress, and says they’ve tried to offer him some comfort.

“I [spent] 8 hours at my computer dictating yesterday and [both dogs] were basically at my side making sure I couldn’t walk without stepping on them,” Sam says. “They knew I needed it; they know I’m under stress. They read us well.”

Jesse Dukes is the Curious City audio producer. You can follow him @CuriousDukes.