Texas A&M study examines COVID-19 and pets

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KTRK) -- As the research continues into how COVID-19 impacts human bodies, scientists at Texas A&M University's Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences department are looking into the effects the virus may have on our pets.

"We've had over 200 pets that we've enrolled in our study so far," said Associate Professor Sarah Hamer, one of the researchers working on the project.

The study focuses on pets living in Brazos County, who are living in a home where a person has tested positive for COVID-19. Back in June, the researchers identified the first cat in Texas to test positive. The cat has since recovered and is still being studied.

Pet owners can opt-in for the study and allow researchers, dressed in hazmat suits, to collect various samples that will be studied.

"We take several samples from the pets," Hamer said. "We take some from the nose, mouth, rectum and we also swab the fur, scruff and the back and belly."

A blood sample is also taken and tested for antibodies inside a university lab.

RELATED: Coronavirus tips: Social distancing applies to pets too, CDC says

Hamer says a majority of pets who have tested positive are not showing any symptoms of the virus. Three cats were reported to be sneezing for a few days and a dog was coughing, but those animals have since recovered.

RELATED: 1st pet dog in US with COVID-19 dies in NYC, family details his last days

If you are a pet owner who has tested positive for COVID-19, the advice from Hamer is to wear a mask around your pet while you're contagious. If your pet tests positive, isolate the animal from any other pets and avoid taking the animal away from your home to places like a dog park.

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