By Mike Kruzman /

A local veterinarian is addressing concerns about the coronavirus and pets.

Dr. Kristine Gerster is a veterinarian for Towne & Country Animal Hospital, which has locations in Hartland and Brighton. In an early executive order, it was outlined that anything that needs to be done to prevent pain and discomfort in pets can be seen as essential work, allowing the hospital to continue caring for animals in- need. This includes vaccinations and getting animals on flea and heartworm-prevention.

Gerster pointed out that dogs and cats experience stress like humans. With more pet-owners home during the outbreak, she said they can feel the situation is different and that may cause an animal some unrest. Gerster said stress comes to the forefront in dogs by way of gastro-intestinal issues, vomiting, and diarrhea; and in cats by way of urinary problems. She said there has also been some concern from pet owners on whether cornonavirus can be transmitted from the pet. Gerster said they've seen coronavirus in dogs, cats, and ferrets. But while the coronavirus originated in the animal world, she said there is no information to prove that pets can retransmit it to humans. Gerster said they aren’t testing animals, but will continue to follow the recommendations of the health department.

Both Towne & Country locations are currently open for curbside assistance for pets. A technician can come to your car, get the needed information, and take the pet in to see the vet. The vet will then call the owner from there and facilitate what needs to be done. Gerster said they hope to re-open once the stay-at-home order is lifted, and when they do, will be doing things a little differently. Plexiglas has been installed at reception, and they will limit the number people allowed in, and require the use of masks. Gerster said hopefully they can lighten it up as time goes on, but for the time being, everything is going as well as can be expected.

(photo - Anna Langova)