What is coronavirus disease?
Coronavirus disease is a viral intestinal infection of dogs which is usually
of short duration. However, the condition can be unpleasant. The causal agent
belongs to the Coronavirus family. Different coronaviruses cause infections
in many species of animals and birds. However, humans are not affected by the
How is it transmitted?
Infected dogs usually shed the virus in their feces (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 favor 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 more severe, particularly in young puppies.
Mixed infections, for instance with the parvovirus, may intensify the disease.
The diarrhea is typically sudden in onset, accompanied by lethargy and decreased
appetite. Feces are typically loose with very smelly and are often orange tinted.
They may contain blood or mucus.
Are there diseases which can be confused with coronavirus disease?
There are many causes of diarrhea 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. Be sure
to see your veterinarian promptly if your dog has diarrhea that does not resolve
in a few days or is associated with significant lethargy or loss of appetite.
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 seek veterinary
assistance in treating this disease at the outset.
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