There has been a lot of talk about Coronavirus lately, mostly referring to CoVID-19, yet coronaviruses exist across species in varying forms and severity. People may forget that Coronaviruses have been lurking in the shadows and perplexing doctors, veterinarians, and scientists for the past century.
All animals, including humans, are susceptible to forms of Coronaviruses. Some Coronavirues can spread from one species to another while others stay confined within theirs. It can get confusing when differentiating between coronaviruses and Coronavirus in dogs. Read on to develop a better understanding of Coronavirus in dogs.
What is Coronavirus in Dogs?
Canine Coronavirus or CCoV is a viral pathogen that causes infectious diseases in dogs, wild and domesticated. CCoV is canine-specific and replicates itself in the upper 2/3 of the small intestine and the surrounding lymph nodes. Canine Coronavirus causes mild gastrointestinal discomfort and some not-so-glamorous symptoms.
Canine Coronavirus is self-limiting, and for most healthy dogs, the symptoms that come with it are pretty mild. However, as with many viral and bacterial infections, puppies and immunocompromised dogs are at greater risk for developing more severe symptoms.
Wait. What about CoVID-19?
At the beginning of the pandemic, many had the following worries:
- Are my pets safe from CoViD-19?
- Can I contract CoVID-19 from my pet?
- Can I give my pet CoVID-19?
Relax. According to the CDC, there is no evidence indicating that dogs can spread CoVID-19 to their humans.
But what about the Pomeranian that died after testing positive for CoVID-19?!
Yes, there was a case in Hong Kong of a 17-year-old Pomeranian testing positive for CoVID-19. The dog’s human, a 60-year-old woman, was hospitalized with the virus a couple of weeks before.
The Pomeranian showed respiratory symptoms similar to those of many viral infections causing dog cough, many of which had been present even before the owner’s positive result. Soon after the owner returned home, the dog was tested for CoVID-19, which returned with a weak positive result.
The Pomeranian was quarantined in a government establishment for a month until the dog finally tested negative and was able to return home. Sadly, the dog died two days later.
Furthermore, scientists do not believe that CoVID-19 was the cause of the dog’s death because the animal didn’t receive a serological test or blood test to see the virus in the bloodstream. Therefore they cannot know if the dog was infected with CoVID-19 or just covered in a film of CoVID-19 from being in a human’s infected environment.
The story of the Pomeranian is a sad one because while scientists unanimously agree that human to dog transmission is possible, dog-to-human transmission is not a threat. There are many plausible reasons for the dog’s death like:
- The stress of being quarantined in some weird government facility for almost a month.
- Another canine respiratory infection.
- All of the above
If anything, humans can transfer CoVID-19 to dogs, but dogs usually don’t have any symptoms. In addition, a good handful of animals have tested positive for CoVID-19, yet there is no evidence of any of those animals transmitting the virus to other animals or humans.
What Causes Coronavirus in Dogs?
Canine Coronavirus in dogs is caused by a viral pathogen mainly spread through ingesting fecal matter. So, if a dog is that type that loves to sniff and snack on random poops every chance they get, they may have already been infected with Canine Coronavirus.
Canine Coronavirus is an enteric infection that primarily causes gastrointestinal discomfort. It is similar to Coronavirus in Cats in that way, though the mutation to FIP in cats is more severe than any variation of Coronavirus in dogs.
What is the Incubation Period for Canine Coronavirus?
Canine Coronavirus symptoms will start to manifest themselves after 24-36 hours of ingesting the virus. After that time, the virus will begin to shed, being expelled through fecal matter. As a result, the most common symptom of CCoV is, that’s right, diarrhea.
How is Coronavirus in Dogs Transmitted?
When a dog ingests Canine Coronavirus, it then attaches itself to the small intestinal wall. The virus then replicates itself using the cells of the small intestine. When the cells are ready, they shed the virus into the gut, where the virus then ends up in the poop.
Many dogs thoroughly enjoy sniffing, sampling, or even eating strangers poop. Often they don’t care what type it is; they are interested! Unfortunately, from this curiosity, a Canine Coronavirus infection can develop.
Coronavirus in dogs is transmitted through the ingestion of infected:
- Soil or grass
Is Canine Coronavirus Contagious?
Canine Coronavirus is highly contagious, but only from dog to dog. CCoV is a dog-specific virus to which other animals are not susceptible.
In a study, one out of four dogs over the age of one year tested positive for CCoV antibody titers. Although all of the dogs were over one year old, it is assumed that as dog’s age, so does their likelihood of acquiring the CCV antibodies.
Is Coronavirus in Dogs Contagious to Humans?
While some coronaviruses are zoonotic (transmitted from animal to human), like SARS-CoV originated by bats or H1N1 transmitted by pigs; Canine Coronavirus is not contagious to humans. CCoV is only transferable from dog to dog.
Signs & Symptoms of Coronavirus in Dogs
In many cases, a CCoV infection in an adult dog can go completely unnoticed by their human. In some cases, dogs may be asymptomatic. If a dog does show symptoms, it will be enteric or intestinal and usually short-lived.
Signs & Symptoms of Canine Coronavirus include:
- Mild respiratory symptoms
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Slight fever
Signs and symptoms of Coronavirus in dogs can vary and often are quite mild. For example, a dog may experience a few days of diarrhea followed by several days of loose stools or a single episode of vomiting. However, most dogs recover after a few days of what is sometimes explosive diarrhea.
How to Treat Coronavirus in Dogs
Treatment of Canine Coronavirus is more about managing the symptoms than eradicating the virus. There is no “cure” for Canine Coronavirus. However, since the virus is self-limiting and sheds itself, pet parents must pay attention to the effects of symptoms like dehydration.
Top treatment options for CCoV
- Fluids and hydration
- Homeopathy and natural home remedies
- Appetite stimulants
Proper attention to the hydration of a dog suffering from CCoV is essential. With these treatment options, along with supportive care from the owner, and consultation with the vet, things should clear up fairly quickly.
Enteric Coronavirus in Dogs
|Canine Coronavirus or CCoV||Treatment|
Mild respiratory symptoms
Loss of appetite
|Fluids and hydration|
How to Prevent Coronavirus in Dogs
Preventing Canine Coronavirus in dogs could prove to be complicated. Unless dog parents can have their eyes on their puppies and dogs 24/7, they will probably end up sniffing or tasting an infected poop. It’s disgusting, but that’s just what dogs do.
Here are a few things that can help to prevent sickness and infection in dogs.
- Avoid stress
- Proper diet
- Offer foods that boost immunity
As humans do, dogs release the stress hormone cortisol when they get excited or nervous. Cortisol in dogs can increase four times the normal amount when they are stressed. Stress can lead to lessened immune function and higher disease susceptibility. Studies have even shown that dogs cortisol and oxytocin levels depend on interactions with their humans. Yep, so no pressure!
A healthy and stable diet of foods rich in vitamins, fibre, and antioxidants can increase dogs’ health and immune system. In turn, it is making them more able to fight off infection when faced with infection or disease.
Offer foods that boost immunity
Offering foods high in vitamins and antioxidants can be beneficial to everyone in the home, including the dog! Some foods that boost immunity are:
- Berries -raspberries and blueberries full of antioxidants
- Cucumbers – great for dogs trying to drop a few pounds
- Carrots – full of beta-carotene and vitamin A
Check out this list of fruits and veggies dogs can and cannot eat.
Is There a Vaccine for Coronavirus in Dogs?
The Canine Coronavirus vaccine is available and can be administered by your family veterinarian. The existing CCoV vaccine is deemed safe and doesn’t seem to cause any significant adverse reactions. However, the CCoV vaccine is a tough one to get right.
Although Canine Coronavirus is very contagious and spreads quickly, it is not at the top of the vaccine priority list for a couple of reasons.
- It’s tough to make an effective vaccine
- Dogs will develop antibodies
- Core vaccines are important!
It’s tough to make an effective vaccine
Scientists have been trying to create a vaccine for canine Coronavirus for years, but it is challenging to immunize against the virus effectively.
In addition, because Canine Coronavirus is such a giant virus, it shows a greater tendency to variation, making it challenging to create a vaccine that will immunize dogs against CCoV.
Dogs will develop antibodies
Scientists agree that immunization against Canine Coronavirus would be advantageous. However, it is up in the air whether current vaccinations for Canine Coronavirus are more effective in offering immunity from infection.
A study was conducted of 32 canine fecal samples before and after vaccination. Some were infected; naturally, some experimentally, some inoculated, orally, intranasally, and intramuscularly.
All dogs had levels of IGAs in their feces, though the naturally and experimentally infected had the highest levels. IGAs=secreted by mucosal tissue, in this case, tissue of the small intestine.
There isn’t much data available on the immunity of Coronavirus in dogs. However, scientists believe there to be a correlation between fecal IGAs and protection against the virus.
Core Vaccines are Important!
Although Canine coronavirus vaccination is optional, many vaccines are not, and for a good reason! Yes, CCoV is not a big deal in most cases; however, when CCoV is paired with another virus like Parvovirus or Adenovirus, it can be detrimental, even fatal, particularly to puppies.
Coronavirus in Puppies
Here’s the thing, puppies are more susceptible to everything. So it is recommended not even to start socializing puppies until they are fully vaccinated. Even taking puppies for walks where other dogs walk can be dangerous.
Canine Coronavirus alone can lead to unfavorable consequences or even death due to loss of fluids. While an adult dog can handle a bout of diarrhea, a tiny puppy cannot. Therefore, puppies may need to undergo fluid therapy or hospitalization when infected with CCoV.
Parvovirus and CCoV
Canine PArvovirus or CPV-2 is a highly contagious and deadly virus that affects puppies. Parvovirus invades the cardiovascular system and the gastrointestinal tract. Parvovirus causes
How does Parvovirus spread?
Like CCoV, Parvovirus is spread through infected feces. As a result, unvaccinated puppies are very vulnerable to contracting life-threatening viruses. Therefore, while puppy socialization is essential, one must take caution for the first few weeks of the puppy’s life until they are fully vaccinated.
A study showed that three puppies with Parvovirus shared symptoms like hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. They all recovered only to experience the same symptoms 15 days later, finding they had acquired a CCoV infection. The second infection was more damaging than the first, and two of the three puppies passed away after clinical signs emerged.
Vaccinations in Puppies
Parvovirus, adenovirus, and distemper are responsible for some of the most damaging diseases in dogs. Puppies are the most susceptible due to their underdeveloped immune system and their lack of protection from disease and infection. Therefore, timely vaccination is crucial for puppies.
Initial core and non-core vaccines typically begin at 6-8 weeks with a booster 3-4 weeks later. After that, most vaccines are administered every one to three years.
After a puppy gets all of its core vaccines like Parvovirus, rabies, adenovirus and rabies, and then opted for non-core like kennel cough, a pup is ready to enter the world with caution.
What About Canine Respiratory Coronavirus?
While both Canine Coronavirus (CCoV) and Canine Respiratory Coronavirus (CCRoV) are species-specific, they are two different viruses, manifesting in very different ways.
Canine Coronavirus causes intestinal discomfort in dogs and along with some mild symptoms. Canine Respiratory Coronavirus also comes with fairly mild symptoms, similar to kennel cough symptoms in dogs.
The top symptoms of Canine Respiratory Coronavirus are:
- Mild cough
- Runny nose
Canine Respiratory Coronavirus or CCRoV was discovered in dogs back in England circa 2003. The virus is common in the U.K., Japan, Ireland, Canada and the United States. About 50% of dogs given titers for CCRoV in the U.S. and Canada were positive for CCRoV antibodies, suggesting past infection.
How does Canine Respiratory Virus spread?
Similar to Bordetella Bronchiseptica, CCRoV is spread from dog to dog through direct contact, sneezes, and breathing infected aerosol particles in the air. Dogs who frequent crowded or congested places like these are more likely to acquire the virus:
- Animal shelters
- Boarding facilities
- Dog shows
Contamination of shared surfaces is likely and can also contribute to cross-contamination and infection.
Common surfaces and items include:
- Food and water bowls
- Collars and leashes
- Bedding and furniture
CCRoV is usually pretty mild, but like other respiratory infections, when symptoms persist, it may be a sign that something more serious is going on. However, most CCRoV infections clear up with little or no clinical intervention within one to two weeks.
Treatment for CCRoV
Treatment for CCRoV revolves around supportive care and the basic things like:
- Proper nutrition
- Possible antivirals
CCRoV can be compared to the common cold in humans, but humans are not susceptible to the infection. CCRoV can be prevented by avoiding tight spaces with lots of other dogs, but there is no vaccine at this time. Fortunately, the canine respiratory viral infection tends to shed itself within a couple of weeks with only some loving care, rest, and home remedies.
|Prevalent in:||Transmitted via:||Symptoms||Treatment|
Infected food and water bowls
Still Worried about Coronavirus in Dogs?
Worry and concern for a pet is the way a decent human behaves. Having pets means responsibility for life and the quality of that life. Remember, prevention is always the ideal form of treatment, but that’s not always possible.
Following cautious guidelines for puppies and keeping up on vaccination schedules and vet visits will keep pets safe from fatal illness and disease and put a doting pet parent’s mind at ease.