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How to prevent your pets from spreading coronavirus

While there's no evidence that pets can catch coronavirus, some vets believe there's a way they can spread the virus through touching pet hair.

POTOMAC, Md. — Veterinarians are taking unprecedented precautions in the age of coronavirus, such as not allowing walk-in appointments and meeting pet owners outside. It's all in an effort to protect people from fomites. 

The Centers for Disease Control says there is no evidence that pets can catch coronavirus. But some veterinarians believe that pets can pass it on. If a person doesn't know they have coronavirus, but has a virus droplet on their hands and then pets a dog in someone’s backyard, the virus could end up on the pet’s hair. 

That dog can then pass it on to their owners inside, leading some pet owners to post signs stating: "please no petting."

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Credit: Haleigh Purvis
WUSA9 Reporter Nathan Baca pointing out a backyard sign asking people not to pet a dog during the pandemic

Tinker the dog is 16 years old, and swimming pool therapy keeps her going. But Tinker is missing her owner. For the first time, Tatiana Oussova has to stay in the parking lot of the K9 Aquatic Center in Potomac, while Tinker completes her therapy. 

"I just follow the rules and I’m OK with this," Oussova said. "Hopefully when everyone follows the rules, we’ll be fine." 

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Credit: Haleigh Purvis
K9 Aquatic Therapy in Potomac, Maryland

Business Owner Dominque Darcis closed her dog daycare, but not the therapy pool. 

"We have so many dogs that need to have their weekly, or biweekly swim and they could really regress if they don’t have the swims," Darcis said. "We're trying to stay open just for the dogs." 

Credit: Nathan Baca
Underwater shot of a dog in a swimming pool

Pet owners told WUSA9 they are taking the new procedures well, mindful that protecting those who care for their animals from viral exposure means their pets continue to get much-needed therapy.

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Credit: Haleigh Purvis
Veterinary staff meeting customers outside in the parking lot during the pandemic

"It makes a big difference, because she’s too old to go for long walks now and we can just drop her off and wait in the car and people keep their jobs," commented dog owner Betsy Dehan as she dropped her dog off for physical therapy.

Here are a few warnings and advice for pet owners from the ASPCA and the American Veterinary Medical Association. 

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