As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread around the world, many people have gone to the effort of putting surgical masks on themselves as well as their pets, out of concern that their pets could possibly contract the virus.However, the wider consensus among experts, as well as by the World Health Organization (WHO), is that pets cannot contract the coronavirus. This is despite a Pomeranian dog in Hong Kong testing positive for the coronavirus.How is this possible?Very simply: It didn't have the virus, but it did carry it.News of the dog's diagnosis first broke on February 28, when Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) released a statement saying that the dog tested a "weak positive" for the coronavirus, following tests on oral and nasal samples. However, it did not show any symptoms.Regardless, the statement said that the dog will remain quarantined and will be tested repeatedly until it tests negative.The dog in question belonged to a patient that had contracted the coronavirus, and Hong Kong's Health Department sent the dog to the care of the AFCD on February 26. The statement added that the pets of other confirmed coronavirus patients should be sent to the AFCD, where they will be quarantined.Understandably, many people were alarmed, as this seemingly confirmed that pets could contract the virus, but this is not the case.Rather, pets could have the virus the same way inanimate objects could, by being contaminated.The coronavirus can survive on external surfaces for periods of time. Experts do not have a consensus on exactly how long this period is, but many estimates place it around nine days. This nonetheless has the potential to spread the virus, such as with cash, which changes hands constantly. Due to this "infected cash," Chinese banks have been ordered by the government to disinfect their cash with ultraviolet light and high temperatures before storing it for seven to 14 days before being able to return it to circulation.The dog is likely "infected" in the same way.Nonetheless, it is unclear if the dog could actually infect a human with the virus. However, quarantining is still a precaution."Whilst it seems a bit scary, it's purely a precautionary measure, and it's certainly nothing for pet owners in general to be concerned about," Jane Gray, Hong Kong SPCA's chief veterinary surgeon, told CNN.In addition, even if pets could contract the coronavirus, placing surgical masks them would accomplish nothing. According to the US Surgeon General and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), surgical masks are not in any way effective at preventing infection, but are rather important for those infected to wear to prevent them from spreading it any further.Rather, the most effective way to keep healthy, for both humans and pets, is proper hygiene.Donna Rachel Edmunds contributed to this report.