Recently, one of the more common questions the veterinary community receives about canine health is how the current coronavirus causing COVID-19 impacts dogs and their owners. With such a new strain of the common coronavirus there are many unknowns about how it impacts human population because there just hasn’t been enough time to perform thorough scientific studies.
Another unknown is what impact, if any, this strain will have on canine populations around the world. There are many known strains of coronavirus which affect different species. The canine coronavirus is specific to dogs and CANNOT be transmitted to humans. The odds are good that the COVID-19 virus will not be transmitted to dogs and affect their health.
As a precaution, each dog owner should be aware of the signs and symptoms of canine coronavirus to know what to look for. Dr. Ernest Ward shares some great information about the canine coronavirus:
What is coronavirus disease?
Coronavirus disease is a highly infectious intestinal infection in dogs, especially puppies. Coronavirus is usually short-lived, but may cause considerable abdominal discomfort for a few days in infected dogs. The cause is a virus of the Coronaviridae family. The virus gets its name from the fact that when viewed from above under an electron microscope, the virus has a ring of projections that appear like a coronet, or a small crown made of ornaments fixed on a metal ring. Different coronaviruses cause infections in many species of animals and birds. Canine coronavirus does not affect people.
How is coronavirus transmitted?
Most cases of canine coronavirus are contracted by oral contact with infected fecal matter. A dog may also become infected by eating from contaminated food bowls or by direct contact with an infected dog.
"Crowding and unsanitary conditions favor transmission." Crowding and unsanitary conditions lead to coronavirus transmission. The incubation period from ingestion to clinical signs is one to four days. The duration of illness is two to ten days in most dogs. Secondary infections by bacteria, parasites, and other viruses may develop and prolong illness and recovery. Dogs may be carriers of the disease for up to six months (180 days) after infection.
What are the signs of coronavirus?
Most coronavirus infections are sub-clinical and produce few clinical signs in dogs. Occasionally an infection may cause more severe symptoms, particularly in young pups. The most typical symptom is diarrhea, typically sudden in onset, which may be accompanied by lethargy and decreased appetite. The stool is loose, with a fetid odor and orange tint. It may contain blood or mucus.
Is there any treatment?
There is no specific treatment for coronavirus. Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, but may be useful in controlling secondary bacterial infections. Withholding food for twenty-four hours after diarrhea ceases and gradually reintroducing small amounts of food may be the only required treatment. A dehydrated patient may require intravenous fluids to correct the fluid and electrolyte imbalances. Early medical intervention is the key to successful treatment of severe cases.
Just like in humans, not every dog that comes in contact with a virus will fall ill and underlying conditions and poor immune function can place a dog at greater risk. As a preventative measure there are a few things you can do help limit exposure and keep your dog from being impacted by the canine coronavirus.
- Close contact with other dogs is a strong risk factor for acquiring this and other viruses. Keeping visits to dog parks, kennels and doggie daycares to a minimum will help prevent this possibility.
- Because the canine coronavirus targets the digestive system, maintaining proper intestinal health can reduce the risk of a virus from taking hold. HardyPet Canine PRO6 Probiotic allows dogs to achieve the proper pH balance in the digestive tracts as well as reducing candida yeast overgrowth which boosts the “good bacteria” needed to stay healthy.
- Boosting overall immune function with a canine daily multivitamin like HardyPet Complete can be a front-line defense against any virus your dog comes in contact with. Every immune system needs the right balance of vitamins and nutrients to do it’s job properly.
- Clean water and environment is a key component. Rinse and sterilize your dog’s food and water bowls regularly to help cut down on unhealthy bacteria and viruses that may be present. Regular washing and replacing of dog bedding and toys will also help keep their immune systems from being overwhelmed.
While there are a lot of difference between humans and dogs the old saying still holds true, “Prevention is better than a cure”.