When it comes to coronavirus in dogs, things can get confusing, particularly in today’s world. The word coronavirus may instantly equate to CoVID-19 in the minds of many, but that is not the case. Instead, coronaviruses exist in many mammals, domesticated and wild, most specific to only one species.

What are Coronaviruses Exactly?

Coronaviruses are single-stranded, enveloped, positive-sense RNA viruses that belong to the Coronaveridae family. This complex definition may sound like science-y mumbo jumbo, but the point is that all coronaviruses are structured this way.

Coronaviruses infect many mammals, including:

  • Birds
  • Humans
  • Livestock
  • Wildlife
  • Domesticated animals

Coronaviruses can be divided into groups. These groups are;

  1. Alpha
  2. Beta
  3. Gamma
  4. Delta

Sound confusing? Don’t worry! These are just basic definitions to understand the vast scope of Coronaviruses better.

Alpha

Alpha coronaviruses occur in mammals. Alpha coronaviruses often affect the intestinal tracts causing gastrointestinal discomfort. Feline Coronavirus, Canine “Enteric” Coronavirus and some human coronaviruses exist in this category.

Beta

Beta coronaviruses are also present in mammals like cats, dogs and humans. Betacoronavirus, however, causes mild to severe upper respiratory distress and symptoms.

The canine coronavirus, CCRoV, is a betacoronavirus. Most human viruses that cause common cold symptoms are beta coronaviruses.

Gamma & Delta

While alpha and beta coronaviruses are known to originate in bats, gamma and delta coronaviruses originate in birds. Delta Coronaviruses are a relatively new classification of coronavirus in songbirds and leopard cats in China.

It is evident that there are, has been and will be more coronaviruses as time moves on. Unfortunate, as humans and animals evolve, so do the viruses that attack them. Coronavirus is a broad and immense topic to cover, so let’s get back to Canine Coronavirus.

What is Canine Coronavirus?

What is Canine Coronavirus?
When mentioning Canine Coronavirus, often it is referencing CCoV or Canine “Enteric” Coronavirus. However, Canine “Enteric” Coronavirus and Canine Respiratory Coronavirus are two completely different viruses. That’s right. They aren’t even related!

The only thing they have in common is that they are both species-specific, only occurring in dogs. 

Canine “Enteric” Coronavirus Vs. Canine Respiratory Coronavirus

Coronavirus in Dogs, CCoV or Canine “Enteric” Coronavirus is caused by a viral pathogen that infects the small intestine’s mucous membrane, causing some unsavoury gastrointestinal symptoms.

Canine “Enteric” Coronavirus was identified back in 1971 when a military dog developed signs and symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort. However, not until recently was evidence of another “canine coronavirus” discovered.

What is Canine Respiratory Coronavirus?

Canine Respiratory Coronavirus
Back in 2003, Canine Respiratory Coronavirus or CCRoV was discovered at Royal Veterinary in London. Now, CCRoV is prevalent, particularly in animal shelters across the U.K., Japan, Ireland, Canada and the United States.

Canine Respiratory Coronavirus is a betacoronavirus. CCRoV is closely related to the beta coronavirus that causes the common cold in humans, and the bovine coronavirus causes respiratory symptoms in cattle.

Important – Canine Respiratory Coronavirus is not related to CoVID-19!

Canine Respiratory Coronavirus manifests with cold-like symptoms that are generally mild. However, if another virus or bacterial infection accompanies CCRoV, symptoms will most likely be more severe and can even lead to pneumonia.

What Are The Symptoms of Canine Respiratory Coronavirus?

Symptoms of Canine Coronavirus
Canine Respiratory Coronavirus also comes with relatively mild symptoms, similar to kennel cough symptoms in dogs.

The top symptoms of Canine Respiratory Coronavirus are:

  1. Mild cough
  2. Runny nose
  3. Sneezing

We’ve created this handy table to help you identify symptoms and possible culprits:

Symptoms TreatmentCanine Respiratory Coronavirus
(CCRoV) or Kennel Cough?
Persistent CoughCough Suppressants

Antitussives

Kennel Cough
Mild coughHoney

Humidifier

CCRoV & Kennel Cough
Runny eyes & noseEliminate irritantsCCRoV & Kennel Cough
LethargyRestCCRoV & Kennel Cough
FeverRest

Hydration

Proper nutrition

Veterinarian intervention is necessary if your dog’s temperature reaches 40°C (104°F)

CCRoV & Kennel Cough
Sore throatHoney & Lemon “Tea”

Slippery Elm

CCRoV & Kennel Cough
Gagging, hackingAvoid irritants

Humidifier

Kennel Cough
SneezingEliminate irritants

Clean up with non-toxic and unscented cleaners

CCRoV & Kennel Cough
Loss of AppetiteTry offering wet foods or soft foods

Offer something extra yummy!

Kennel Cough

How Does Canine Respiratory Coronavirus spread?

How does CCOV Spread?
Similar to Bordetella Bronchiseptica, CCoV is spread from dog to dog through direct contact, sneezes, and breathing infected aerosol particles in the air. Dogs who frequent crowded places with poor air circulation like these are more likely to acquire the virus:

  • Animal shelters
  • Boarding facilities
  • Dog shows
  • Kennels

A study showed that after a three-week stay at an animal shelter, 100% of dogs tested positive for Canine Respiratory Coronavirus. However, when tested on the first day at the shelter, only 30% tested positive. This is a clear indication that CCRoV is prevalent in the environment and a common “canine coronavirus”.

Contamination of shared surfaces are likely and can also contribute to cross-contamination and infection.

Surfaces that may transfer infection:

  • Flooring
  • Food and water bowls
  • Collars and leashes
  • Bedding and furniture

How Serious is Canine Respiratory Coronavirus?

CCRoV isn’t much of a problem until many dogs are in crowded spaces together. Then, just like kennel cough, when symptoms persist, it may be a sign that something more serious is going on.

If CCRoV is left untreated, it can lead to serious illness like pneumonia. However, most CCRoV infections clear up with little or no clinical intervention within one to three weeks. 

Canine Respiratory Coronavirus and Kennel Cough

Kennel Cough vs Canine Respiratory Coronavirus
CCRoV and Kennel cough sure do have a lot in common. They almost seem like the same thing!

The funny thing is, Canine Respiratory Coronavirus often does play a role in the dreaded “kennel cough”.

Bordetella Bronchiseptica is often the culprit blamed for Kennel cough or Infectious Tracheobronchitis, and for a good reason. But, many other viruses can contribute to the worsening of symptoms still covered under the umbrella of “kennel cough”.

Kennel cough is often a combination of contributive infectious efforts of several viruses. The following are the top five culprits of kennel cough.

The Top 5 Respiratory Kennel Cough Culprits

  1. Bordetella bronchiseptica
  2. Canine parainfluenza
  3. Canine adenovirus
  4. Canine distemper
  5. Canine respiratory coronavirus

Bordetella Bronchiseptica

Bordetella Bronchiseptica is the bacteria that is so often known for causing kennel cough; however, that isn’t exactly true. Instead, the combination of respiratory viruses is what can lead to more severe and dangerous consequences.

The “kennel cough” or bordetella vaccine is available and administered by a veterinarian annually. Though the vaccine does not guarantee immunization to everything that is kennel cough, it does offer protection against the bacteria bordetella. This extra protection will seriously lessen the severity of symptoms and the recovery time of kennel cough infection.

Canine Parainfluenza

Canine parainfluenza is a highly contagious respiratory virus.

The parainfluenza vaccine is included in the multivalent vaccine DHPP. This super vaccine includes distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, and parvovirus and is administered every three years.

Canine parainfluenza is one of the most common causes of kennel cough in dogs.

Canine Adenovirus II

Canine adenovirus II commonly has a hand in causing kennel cough. Adenovirus II is a close cousin to adenovirus I, hepatitis; however, Adenovirus II is a respiratory virus.

The required core vaccine for adenovirus is administered every three years. Luckily the vaccine for adenovirus I or hepatitis also covers adenovirus II, the respiratory infection. Like many vaccines, it may not eliminate all risk to exposure, but it will limit symptoms and severity in the case of infection.

Canine Distemper

Distemper is probably the most dreaded and dangerous virus a dog can get. Luckily, the vaccination for canine distemper is effective and required by vets around the world.

Distemper has an incredibly negative effect on the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous system. Distemper can be fatal, particularly in puppies. Be sure your dog is vaccinated for distemper and stays up to date on vaccines.

Canine Respiratory Coronavirus

CCRoV is one of Bordetella’s favourite partners in crime. The symptoms of these two kennel cough culprits are so similar that it can be tough to tell which is responsible for what symptom. Unfortunately, kennel cough will accept the help of any infectious respiratory virus.

Kennel cough is a tricky one to immunize against because there are so many possible “sponsors”, if you will. Keeping up on vaccinations and vet visits will keep serious illness and disease away.

Similarities between Canine Respiratory Coronavirus and Kennel Cough

Similarities CCROV and Kennel Cough
To say there are similarities between Canine Respiratory Coronavirus and Kennel Cough is an understatement. CCRoV is Kennel Cough and often cannot be deciphered from Bordetella Bronchiseptica symptoms.

Several similarities exist between the CCRoV and Bordetella Bronchiseptica. Let’s dig into some of those. 

  1. Where do they hang out?
  2. How does it spread?
  3. Who is the most susceptible?
  4. How long does it last?

Where Do They Hang Out?

Canine Respiratory Coronavirus and Bordetella Bronchiseptica run rampant in places where dogs hang out in confined or crowded spaces. These places often also lack proper air circulation like shelters, boarding facilities, kennels and the like.

How Do They Spread?

CCRoV and Bordetella Bronchiseptica are both transmitted through aerosol droplets; AKA sneezes and coughs. Therefore, direct contact is made easy, and contaminated water and food bowls are accessible at crowded places like the ones mentioned above.

Who Is The Most Susceptible?

As with many illnesses and infections across species, the elderly and the very young are more vulnerable to infection than healthy adults. Kennel cough in puppies is much more problematic than an adult dog with the same condition. The dogs that are more susceptible to infection are:

  • Puppies
  • Geriatric dogs
  • Immunocompromised dogs

How Long Does It Last?

CCRoV and Bordetella Bronchiseptica symptoms tend to clear up with little to no clinical intervention within 14 days.

Differences between Canine Respiratory Coronavirus and Bordetella Bronchiseptica

Differences Canine Coronavirus and Bordetella

  1. Vaccine
  2. Type of infection
  3. Contagion

Vaccine

At this time, there is no vaccine for Canine Respiratory Coronavirus.

There is, however, vaccines for all of the other mentioned respiratory infections, including Bordetella Bronchiseptica.

In our bordetella vaccine guide, you can find a vaccine schedule for Bordetella Bronchiseptica and all of the other core and non-core vaccines.

Type of Infection

One of the most apparent differences between Canine Respiratory Coronavirus and Bordetella BRonchiseptica is the type of infection they cause. Bordetella Bronchiseptica is a bacteria, while CCRoV is a virus.

How Contagious Are They?

Both CCRoV and Bordetella are highly contagious to other dogs. Yet Canine Respiratory Coronavirus is species-specific, only infecting dogs. In some cases, cats and other animals have contracted Bordetella Bronchiseptica.

You might be frantically wondering – Can humans get kennel cough?

In incredibly rare (seriously, so rare) cases, yes, severely immunocompromised can catch Bordetella Bronchiseptica.

It’s easy to see why “kennel cough” employs both Bordetella and CCRoV to infect dogs in mass amounts. Although they are two different types of infection (bacterial/viral), their manifestation is similar.

In this table, we’ve outlined the similarities and differences between kennel cough and canine respiratory coronavirus:

FAQCanine Respiratory CoronavirusKennel Cough
What is it?A viral infectionA bacterial infection
How does it spread?Aerosol droplets

Infected food and water bowls

Direct contact

Direct contact

Shared toys

Where do dogs catch it?

Enclosed and crowded places with poor air circulation & other dogs

Animal shelters

Boarding facilities

Dog shows

Kennels

Shelters

Doggy daycares

Boarding facilities

Kennels

Are some dogs more susceptible?Puppies

Immunocompromised dogs

Geriatric dogs

Puppies

Immunocompromised Dogs

Geriatric dogs

What causes it?Virus (sometimes along with another virus or bacteria)Bacteria (sometimes with a virus)
What is the incubation period?Estimated at a few days3-10 days
How long does it last?2 weeksUp to 14 days but cough can linger
Can it cause pneumonia?Rarely, but yes.Yes, if symptoms are ignored Kennel cough can lead to pneumonia
How can you treat it?Antivirals

Supportive care

Rest

Hydration

Healthy nutrition

Antibiotics

Supportive care

Rest

Hydration

Healthy nutrition

Is there a vaccine?NoYes
Is the infection contagious to humans?NoIn extremely rare cases, Yes
Is the infection contagious to cats?NoYes

Kennel cough treatment is helpful in the remedying of Canine Respiratory Coronavirus and Bordetella Bronchiseptica.

Canine Respiratory Coronavirus Treatment

Canine Respiratory Coronavirus Treatment
Treatment for Canine Respiratory Coronavirus mainly revolves around some loving and supportive care based on symptoms shown. Most times, Canine Respiratory Coronavirus will come and go with dogs only experiencing mild signs and symptoms.

  1. Hydration, Healthy Nutrition & Rest
  2. Possible antibiotics
  3. Possible antivirals 
  4. Natural remedies
  5. Isolation

Hydration, Nutrition, & Rest

Hydration, healthy nutrition & rest, or the recovery trifecta, are the cornerstones to healing and rehabilitation from any illness or infection. To some, this may be a “no-brainer”, but when it comes to the treatment of upper respiratory infections or dog cough, these simple guidelines must be followed.

Possible Antibiotics

Your vet may prescribe kennel cough antibiotics if a Bordetella infection is suspected. However, since Bordetella and CCRoV symptoms are so similar, it can be challenging for a veterinarian to diagnose one from the other based on clinical signs.

Possible Antivirals

There isn’t any specific antiviral treatment plan for CCRoV. However, antivirals can be prescribed by a veterinarian if necessary.

Natural Remedies

Many natural and home remedies are available, and some may already be in the cupboard. Natural remedies can be just as effective in treating Canine Respiratory Coronavirus as prescriptions if used correctly. A couple of favourites are honey and slippery elm.

Isolation

Canine Respiratory Coronavirus is super contagious, but only to other dogs. The problem is, the signs and symptoms of CCRoV are so similar to so many different viruses and bacteria that can cause disease in other animals.

If you have other animals in the house, isolation is necessary to prevent multiple infections.

Remember: Canine Respiratory Coronavirus Isn’t as Scary as it Sounds.

With so many different viral pathogens and bacterial infections floating around in the air, a benevolent pet parent may develop a little bit of anxiety; wondering,

Is my pet safe at daycare? Am I safe from my pet who goes to daycare? Am I doing everything I can for my pet’s well-being?

Hopefully, Canine Respiratory Coronavirus sounds a little less daunting and scary after reading this article. Life is messy, and there are many frightening things out there, but pet care does not need to be one of them.