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  • Writer's pictureSteve San Miguel Zamorano

Coronavirus in Dogs

March 10, 2021

Two of the most common complaints encountered in veterinary medicine, especially as it relates to dogs, are vomiting and diarrhea. Although many chemical, physical, and infectious agents can produce these signs, virus-induced infections have gained increased attention in the past few years. Of these viruses, Canine Coronavirus and Parvovirus appear to be the two that are receiving the most attention at this time.

Canine Coronavirus was first isolated from military dogs showing acute onsets of diarrhea in the l970’s.

In the late l970’s during the Parvovirus epidemic Coronavirus was often isolated in dogs showing the diarrhea syndrome. Many dogs were infected with both Parvovirus and Coronavirus at the same time. Much more severe clinical signs were seen when both viruses existed.

It is estimated that at least 50% of all virus-type diarrhea is infected with both Parvovirus and Coronavirus. It is estimated that over 90% of all dogs have had exposure to Coronavirus at one time or another.

The clinical signs of Canine Coronavirus vary from mild and undetectable to severe and fatal. The most common signs include depression, fever, and loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Diarrhea can be watery, yellowish-orange in color, bloody, mucoid, and usually has an offensive odor. Sudden death and abortions sometimes occur. Canine Coronavirus is a highly contagious virus affecting not only puppies but older dogs as well.

The most common route of infection is contact with fecal material containing the virus. Signs begin to show 24-72 hours after exposure. The dog becomes a “carrier” for several weeks after recovery. The virus can live in the environment for several months. Clorox mixed at a rate of 4 ounces in a gallon of water will destroy the virus.

There are no effective anti-viral medications available at this time. Effective treatment consists of dietary restriction, fluid therapy, and possible locally acting gastrointestinal medications, along with broad-spectrum antibiotics to prevent secondary infections.

A vaccine for Canine Coronavirus is now available. It's highly recommended vaccination of ALL dogs against Coronavirus, as well as Parvovirus.

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