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Coronavirus in Dogs: Everything You Need to Know

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There have been questions going around by pet owners if their pets can also be affected by the global outbreak of the coronavirus. Own a cat? Check this.

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Most search engines have recorded keywords like “Coronavirus in dogs,” as people with dogs as pets fear that their animals might become potential carriers of the virus.

Have you ever wondered, as a pet owner, why the name “corona” sounds so royal? Like it is from the word “coronation.” Well, this is because – the virus, when viewed under an electron microscope, would look like they have spikes on their surfaces, making them look like coronets or crowns. So technically, It is royal.

Coronavirus is a family of RNA viruses that causes an array of illnesses in birds and mammals, respectively. In humans, such viruses attack the respiratory system causing infections to the respiratory tracts.

The illness caused may range from mild to severe, depending on the factors on ground. The question still remains, “what are the effects of coronavirus in dogs?”

Some of the mild illnesses, in humans, may include cases of the common cold (although this may be caused by some other peculiar viruses). In contrast, more severe illnesses can lead to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and COVID-19.

The signs and symptoms in other species may vary; for example, Chickens suffers from upper respiratory tract diseases when infected. In humans, they can cause both upper and lower respiratory tract diseases, while pigs and cows experience diarrhea.

Currently, there are no vaccines or drugs for prevention and treatment for human coronavirus infections.

Coronaviruses

The current pandemic is an eye-opener for this virus. Even though, till this very moment, most people do not know of this family of viruses and can not differentiate them.

As explained above, coronavirus is a family of RNA viruses that may cause some infections to its host, that is, if the host is not immune to them.

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Below are listed only but few of the coronaviruses known;

  • Canine Enteric Coronavirus (Ccov): This is the causative agent for the viral infection that affects dogs and causes diarrhea in them.
  • Canine Respiratory Coronavirus (Crcov): This the causative agent of the infectious respiratory disease that affects the upper respiratory tracts in dogs.
  • Feline Coronavirus (Fcov): This is considered a viral infection that causes mild diarrhea in cats, although it is usually asymptomatic. This is quite common in cats.
  • Bovine Coronavirus (Bcov Or Bcv): This, under the coronaviridae family, is the species-member of Betacoronavirus. This is a viral infection that enters its host cell by binding to its acid receptor. It causes complex enzootic pneumonia infection in calves and winter dysentery in their adults. It generally affects ruminants.
  • Human coronaviruses: First discovered in the mid-60s, human coronaviruses are collectively seven known coronaviruses that can infect humans is.

They are namely;

  • 229E – Alpha coronavirus
  • NL63 – Alpha coronavirus
  • OC43 – Beta coronavirus
  • HKU1 – Beta coronavirus
  • MERS-CoV – Beta coronavirus: This is the causative agent for the illness – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
  • SARS-CoV – Beta coronavirus: This is the causative agent for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
  • SARS-CoV-2 – Novel coronavirus: This is the causative agent for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Note: Coronaviruses that used to infect animals – both wild and domesticated have evolved and started infecting humans; hence, the new human coronaviruses.

Three recent examples of this are MERS-CoV, 2019-nCoV, and SARS-CoV.

Coronavirus in dogs

Here, we are taking on coronavirus that can affect dogs, specifically canine enteric coronavirus. Canine enteric coronavirus is one of the types of coronavirus that attacks the intestinal tracts in dogs.

Mentioned later in this article are different strains of coronavirus in dogs, other animals, and humans. But they are different from each other, and by understanding this and gaining more knowledge on this, one can apply for the knowledge and help in not only keeping the dog safe but everybody safe healthy as well.

Canine coronavirus (CCoV), a member of the genus Alphacoronavirus and subgenus Tegacovirus from the coronaviridae family, is a single-stranded RNA virus which is a member of the species – Alphacoronavirus.

This virus causes gastrointestinal diseases in dogs. This virus is known globally to be highly infectious, and by binding to the APN receptor of the host, it enters the cell of its host, thereby infecting its host.

In 1971, there was an outbreak in sentry dogs in Germany, that was when it was first recorded. Canine coronavirus disease (CCoV) in dogs is highly infectious.

It is a gastrointestinal infection with symptoms that primarily affects the stomach and intestines, causing abdominal discomfort and pain for a couple of days in infected dogs, especially puppies. This type of coronavirus is usually short-lived.

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Are humans safe from Coronavirus in dogs (and Vice Versa)?

Canine enteric coronavirus is quite infectious amongst dogs, but is it contagious to humans? It is not.

The human coronavirus, popularly known as Covid-19, is entirely different from Canine Enteric Coronavirus (CCoV). The human coronavirus attacks the respiratory tracts (lungs) in humans, thereby causing respiratory symptoms in humans.

According to a study carried out in the US as well as South Korea, more than 3500 pets (horses, cats, and dogs inclusive) were tested came back negative. Now, scientists are wondering whether or not these pets are carriers of this disease, or they are at risk as well.

Symptoms of Coronavirus in Dogs

The symptoms of coronavirus in dogs include;

  • Loss of Appetite: When the dog does not want to eat as much as necessary.
  • Sudden diarrhea: When the dog suddenly starts experiencing acute diarrhea.
  • Vomiting: This is the key symptom of an infected dog.
  • Lethargy: When a dog suddenly does not feel as energetic as before and becomes less active.

The symptoms, as explained above, are real signs that the dog may be suffering from enteric coronavirus.

Enteric Coronavirus does not have respiratory symptoms in dogs, unlike respiratory coronavirus, but if respiratory symptoms are noticed in addition to the above-explained symptoms, then the lungs must have been had aspiration from too much vomiting.

Causes of coronavirus in dogs

There are many strains of canine enteric coronavirus (CCoV) that can manifest gastrointestinal symptoms when a host (dogs) must have contracted them by getting in direct contact with infected feces.

Remember, the route of infection is oral-faeco. This may happen when dogs take a sniff on an infected poop, maybe from another dog poop. It might get some of the poop on its nose, and being a dog, it will definitely lick its nose, thereby ingesting the virus into its system.

Talk of “ingestion,” when a dog directly eats feces that have these viral strains in it can get the dog infected. At times it is the contaminated food, water, and containers for the food, and water can also get the dog infected.

Dirty and unkempt environment, as well as the places where dogs use to litter in, are most expected to contain and bread this virus. Mind you that the virus can survive even under freezing temperatures.

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Diagnosing coronavirus in dogs

Early symptoms of coronavirus in dogs are often mild, and most times, it’s unnoticeable that the dog may have this infection.

Suspicion may start to arise when the symptoms worsen and become more noticeable, and a veterinarian will have thoroughly examine the dog physically. Samples of the dog’s feces may be obtained for testing.

The feces will go through many tests in order to cancel out the bacterial imbalance, parasitic infections, and other gastrointestinal diseases that have similar symptoms as canine coronavirus.

Further tests such as X-rays, blood tests, and a special analysis – “RT-PCR” may be carried out in order to confirm canine coronavirus.

Treatment for coronavirus in dogs

Although there is no specific treatment for canine coronavirus, at least there are some things one can do to intervene;

  • Use of antibiotics: Although Antibiotics are not effective in fighting viruses, they may be used in the control of some secondary bacterial infections. Therefore, the correct use of some prescribed antibiotics may help in managing this illness in dogs.
  • Careful feeding: By ceasing food for about twenty-four hours after diarrhea must have stopped. Then the gradual reintroduction of a minute quantity of food may seem like the only necessary treatment for this illness.
  • Intravenous fluids: Diarrhea may lead to dehydration, and when your dog becomes dehydrated, intravenous fluids are needed to maintain electrolyte balance and to correct the fluid balances as well.

Like other illnesses, early medical intervention can result in a successful treatment as well as preventing it from becoming so severe.

Preventing Coronavirus in Dogs

Coronavirus in Dogs

Canine coronavirus is quite infectious in dogs, but fortunately, there are vaccines for this. These vaccines are effective and should be administered regularly.

Although these vaccines or combinations of vaccines may are not recommended to every dog because of some factors applied, this can be discussed with a professional veterinarian following the vaccine’s administration on the dog’s lifestyle basis and risk assessment.

All this is to make sure that the dog develops quite a string of immunity to the virus.

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Note: There is no known vaccine that is considered effective against COVID-19 yet; thus, the vaccine we are talking about here works against the canine coronavirus.

Are you a pet owner? Have you noticed any signs of coronavirus in your dog? If yes, what measures have you taken to prevent the virus from affecting your pet further? Are there tips or suggestions you’d like to share with us that other pet owners can benefit from? Please do so in the comments below.

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