How does COVID-19 affect dogs, cats, and other animals? Tufts researchers want your help finding the answer

BOSTON (WHDH) - How does COVID-19 affect dogs, cats, and other animals? That’s what locals want to find out. And your pets can now take part in their new research project.

Researchers at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University launched a new study to see how the virus may infect pets.

“Based on the evidence so far, we think that’s a very rare event,” Jonathan Runstadler, a virologist and professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University said.

Professor Runstadler and his team are leading the research. They need New England pets to participate.

“We are hoping to enroll several hundred animals over the next few weeks to get a really quick picture,” Professor Runstadler said.

Animals currently being treated at Tufts can take part in the study, and local pets who aren’t patients can enroll too.

Tufts will send some pet owners “in-home” test kits.

“We’re asking people to take a swab sample inside the nasal passage and inside the mouth of the animal. That gets put in a little vial that has some transport media that gets shipped back to us for analysis,” Professor Runstadler said.

The tests used on pets are different from the ones used on people.

Researchers say the more they can find out about this mysterious virus the more they can help people and pets.

“Hopefully learn something that will either help us alleviate what’s going on now or but perhaps importantly prepare or prevent future outbreaks like this,” Professor Runstadler said.

Tufts says please don’t come to their animal hospitals unless you have an appointment or an emergency. If you want to participate in the study click here for more information.

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