The short answer is probably not, dogs and cats can not get infected by this novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
However, not enough research has gone into that, so as of now, it is still uncertain.
While it is true that some pets can get infected by certain coronaviruses, such as the canine respiratory coronavirus, COVID-19 seems to be a species-specific pandemic (source akc.org).
Recently, there has been one instance where a dog in Hong Kong had been placed under quarantine, after getting a weak-positive in a COVID-19 test. Health authorities in Hong Kong and the WHO says that there’s currently not enough evidence to proclaim that dogs can get infected. The owner of the dog was tested positive for COVID-19, so it is possible that the dog came in contact with the virus without getting infected by it (source World Health Organization).
This could happen if the dog licked a contaminated surface, like the dog’s owner (source The Guardian).
Nevertheless, Hong Kong is warning people not to kiss their dogs and take the usual precautions around them, such as washing their hands before and after touching their pets.
Why are people putting facemasks on their dogs?
It’s all over social media recently, pictures off dogs wearing facemasks. But it is better not to force your pet to wear a facemask. Your pet probably wouldn’t enjoy it, and a facemask can only help not spreading the virus, it doesn’t protect anybody from catching it.
The reason people are putting facemasks on their dogs is most likely out of fear. Nobody knows much about the virus, and everybody is afraid of catching it. We are all just trying to do whatever we can.
It is better to save the facemasks for people who have been exposed, or been tested positive for COVID-19 since there is a short supply of them. Although there is a different kind of masks specifically for dogs, they seem to be quite pricy and frankly not worth you buying.
There’s a difference between being infected and being infectious.
If you’ve been tested positive for COVID-19 or if you are exposed to the virus, it is recommended to avoid contact with your pet, not because your pet is at risk of getting infected, but to reduce the spread of germs. If you touch your dog and another person touches it after you, he or she could then get infected as well.
Soon, perhaps, we would all need to teach our dogs to go to work instead of us. It seems while we all stay home isolating ourselves, our dogs would instead replace us and work like dogs all day long. Look at how the tables have turned.