Canine Coronavirus: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention
With all of the concern around the SARs-CoV-2 (COVID-19) coronavirus in people, it is understandable to be curious as to whether or not our pets can catch or transmit such a virus. If your pup has been sneezing or coughing, or are they dealing with vomiting or diarrhea, it’s possible they may be infected with canine coronavirus. Please continue reading to learn more about this virus, its symptoms, transmission, and prevention.
Canine coronavirus is a highly contagious virus that spreads readily between dogs. If you have a puppy or dog who is dealing with stomach/intestinal or respiratory signs, they may have been infected with canine coronavirus.
The canine coronavirus is not the same as the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) that affects people. And the coronavirus that can cause disease in dogs does not cause disease in people. However, canine coronavirus is a highly infectious viral disease that is very contagious among dogs.
There are two types of coronavirus that affect dogs, the enteric version (CECoV) affects the gastrointestinal tract and the respiratory version (CRCoV) which is one of a multitude of possible causes of kennel cough in dogs.
How is the Canine Coronavirus Spread?
- Canine Enteric Coronavirus – The virus is spread when the feces of an infected dog are ingested by another dog. This variant of the canine coronavirus directly damages the cells of the gastrointestinal tract.
- Canine Respiratory Coronavirus – The virus is spread by the coughing or sneezing of an infected dog, which causes viral particles to become aerosolized (airborne) and are then inhaled into the airways of another dog.
It can take 1-3 days for the virus to incubate and become infective in a dog. Depending upon the age and overall health status of a dog, they may or may not develop symptoms of illness. Once infected, dogs may shed the canine coronavirus for upwards of 2 weeks.
Which dogs are more likely to get this virus?
Dogs of any breed, age, and gender can be affected by the canine coronavirus. However, this virus is noted more frequently in dogs that are exposed to a large number of other dogs (breeding facilities, shelters, etc.).
Clinical signs are noted most often, and more severe disease is more common in young dogs than adult dogs. In very young puppies, this virus may lead to sudden death. Along these same lines, adult dogs may be carriers of this virus, shedding it while not showing any signs of illness themselves.
Symptoms of Canine Coronavirus Infection
Canine Enteric Coronavirus (gastrointestinal variant)
- Diarrhea (with or without blood)
- Dehydration (secondary to vomiting/diarrhea)
- Decreased appetite
Canine Respiratory Coronavirus
- Dry honking cough
- Gagging/regurgitation immediately after coughing
- Nasal discharge
- Difficulty breathing
- Decreased appetite
How is Canine Coronavirus treated?
There is no specific treatment for canine coronavirus infection. The treatment varies on the severity of clinical signs and will be anything from no treatment necessary to hospitalization for severely ill dogs.
A combination of the following treatments may be recommended:
- Subcutaneous fluids
- Anti-nausea medication
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Cough suppressants
In more severely ill dogs, the following treatments may be recommended:
- IV fluids
- Injectable medications (anti-nausea, antibiotics, etc.)
- Temporary feeding tubes
- Appetite stimulants
- Supplemental oxygen
How to Prevent Canine Coronavirus
Although a vaccine for canine coronavirus exists, it only offers partial protection and is not regularly recommended by veterinarians, as infection with this virus typically causes mild disease.
The canine coronavirus is rather susceptible to disinfectants and high temperatures.
Need to speak with a veterinarian regarding canine coronavirus or another concern?
Click here to schedule a video consult to speak to one of our vets. You can also download the FirstVet app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores.