Infectious diseases

Can Dogs Get Rotavirus?

Anaëlle Laurent
By Anaëlle Laurent. February 17, 2020
Can Dogs Get Rotavirus?

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When a person has stomach flu, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and vomiting may present as symptoms. One of the main causes of stomach flu (gastroenteritis) is the rotavirus. If we see similar symptoms in our dog, it is understandable we might wonder whether our dog is suffering from this viral intestinal disease. Can dogs get rotavirus? Although humans and dogs do not suffer from all the same diseases, it is possible for dogs to get rotavirus.

To know more, AnimalWised explores everything you need to know about rotavirus in dogs. We do so by looking at the causes, symptoms and treatment options of this viral intestinal disease. Crucially, we also investigate whether rotavirus can be transferred from dogs to humans and vice versa.

You may also be interested in: Can a Spayed Dog Get Pyometra?


  1. What is canine rotavirus?
  2. What are the symptoms?
  3. How to treat rotavirus in dogs
  4. Is rotavirus in dogs contagious to humans?

What is canine rotavirus?

Rotavirus is a type of intestinal viral infection, an infection that causes intestinal inflammation in dogs. In severe cases, damage is caused to the epithelial linings of the intestinal walls. As damage occurs in the stomach and small intestine, rotavirus will lead to diarrhea and/or vomiting.

Rotavirus is the leading cause of diarrhea and gastrointestinal upset in canines. It is often not discussed as much as other infections such as canine coronavirus or parvovirus. This is partly because symptoms of rotavirus are comparatively not as serious. Most dogs will be exposed to rotavirus at some point in their lives. The most prevalent tend to be puppies younger than 12 weeks old. This is why it is very important to bring your puppy to the veterinarian as soon as possible. This way a professional can examine them and prescribe the correct treatment for their diagnosis.

What are the symptoms?

The incubation period rotavirus ranges between 1 and 5 days. After this time, the most prominent symptoms of this viral intestinal disease include:

  • Diarrhea (may contain mucus)
  • Vomiting
  • Hyper-salivation
  • Sickness
  • Gagging
  • Loss of appetite or anorexia
  • Dehydration
  • Pain in the abdominal area
  • Apathy in younger puppies
  • Increase in leukocytes (white blood cells)

In the majority of cases, rotavirus will not need to be diagnosed specifically. The same general procedure for treatment will be carried out for most types of canine gastroenteritis.

How is rotavirus in dogs diagnosed?

Diagnosing rotavirus will only be carried out if the veterinarian thinks it is necessary. To achieve an accurate diagnosis, a fecal sample will be taken from the dog. However, it is important to note that this virus is difficult to detect after the 8th day of the infection's onset. A blood test will be able to tell if the dog's leukocytes have increased. In the case of norovirus, a similar viral infection, the leukocytes will decrease.

Can Dogs Get Rotavirus? - What are the symptoms?

How to treat rotavirus in dogs

The treatment of rotavirus in dogs will depend on the intensity of the condition and the symptoms it manifests. Mild dehydration can be treated at home by administering saline solution orally or subcutaneously. Severe dehydration requires the dog to be admitted to a veterinary clinic. Especially in puppies, it is very important to seek rapid veterinary assistance to avoid serious complications. Remember that dogs can die due to severe dehydration. Vomiting and diarrhea must also be treated.

Another fundamental aspect when it comes to knowing how to treat rotavirus in dogs is feeding. After a few hours of fasting, begin to offer the dog water to see if it is able to tolerate it without vomiting or having diarrhea. If the animal is able to accept food without any symptom relapses, the veterinarian will prescribe a special diet. This diet should also be offered in smaller portions 4 to 6 times a day.

In most cases, the prognosis for this type of viral infection is good and dogs recover completely. However, if there is no improvement in a couple of days or the symptoms worsen, the dog must go back to the veterinarian to reassess the diagnosis.

Drugs used to treat rotavirus in dogs

The type of medicine needed for the dog will depend on the severity of their conditions. Since rotavirus infections in dogs tend to be mild, drugs are generally not necessary. However, if the clinical profile is severe or if it is associated with parvovirus, then the veterinarian can prescribe medications such as antibiotics and antiemetics (anti-nausea drugs).

Can Dogs Get Rotavirus? - How to treat rotavirus in dogs

Is rotavirus in dogs contagious to humans?

This virus has been recognized as zoonotic, meaning that it can be transmitted to humans. Although, there are insufficient studies to be conclusive, there have been reports of children infected with canine retrovirus[1].

Contagion occurs mainly through the oral-fecal route. To avoid this, it is recommended to take extreme hygiene measures, especially if it is necessary to manipulate the feces of sick dogs. Special care must be taken with children.

As rotavirus is linked to other intestinal infections, we encourage you read more about the canine parvavirus or watch our video below on canine coronavirus:

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Can Dogs Get Rotavirus?, we recommend you visit our Infectious diseases category.


1. Grazia, S., & Martella, V., I.-S. (2007). Canine-Origin G3P[3] Rotavirus Strain in Child with Acute Gastroenteritis. Emerging Infections Diseases, 13(7), 1091-1093.

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