Coronavirus Disease

dog with coronavirus diseaseWhat is coronavirus disease?

Various coronaviruses can cause infection in animals and birds but it does not affect us, i.e. it is not zoonotic. Canine coronavirus disease can be the cause of diarrhoea especially in puppies less than three months of age.

How is it transmitted?

Infected dogs usually shed the virus in their faeces (and possibly saliva) for one to two weeks, sometimes even longer. The virus is ingested from contaminated food bowls or by direct contact with the infected dog. Crowding and unsanitary conditions favour transmission. The incubation period (from ingestion to clinical signs) is one to five days.

What are the signs of coronavirus disease?

Many infections are subclinical (inapparent) or mild and transient. However, occasional infections and outbreaks are severe, particularly in young puppies. Mixed infections, for instance with parvovirus, may intensify the disease. The diarrhoea is typically sudden in onset, accompanied by lethargy and decreased appetite. Faeces are typically loose, very smelly and often orange tinted. They may contain blood or mucus.

Are there any diseases which can be confused with coronavirus disease?

There are many causes of diarrhoea in dogs, all of which may appear similar to coronavirus disease. Severe cases of coronavirus disease can be easily confused with parvovirus infection, and the two conditions may occur together. If your dog has diarrhoea that does not resolve in a few days or is associated with significant lethargy or loss of appetite please contact us.

"There are many causes of diarrhoea in dogs, all of which may appear similar to coronavirus disease."

Is there any treatment?

There is no drug that kills the virus. However, as with most viruses, the course of the disease is generally short. Antibiotics are generally used because secondary bacterial infection is common. Withholding food for 24 hours or so and gradually reintroducing it may be sufficient. Dehydration may occur and must be corrected with intravenous fluids. It is advisable to always seek veterinary assistance in treating this disease at the outset.

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