Infectious diseases

Canine Coronavirus

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: March 10, 2020
Canine Coronavirus

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When making the important decision of welcoming a dog into your home, you are accepting responsibility for all their physical, psychological and social needs. Although it is a responsibility to be taken seriously, the joy you receive in return is well worth your dedication as that strong and special bond between dog and owner can be so rewarding.

Even with regular health checks and immunizations, your dog may still get sick. This is because some diseases either can't be immunized against or are not included in a given area's risk assessment, as well as other factors. With issues such as the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak, canine coronavirus is a greater fear than ever.

This AnimalWised article deals with symptoms and treatments of canine coronavirus, an infectious disease that requires veterinary attention as early as possible.

You may also be interested in: Can Dogs Get Rotavirus?


  1. What is canine coronavirus?
  2. Symptoms of canine coronavirus
  3. How is canine coronavirus spread?
  4. Is canine coronavirus contagious to humans?
  5. Treatment of the canine coronavirus
  6. Is canine coronavirus curable?
  7. How to care for a dog with coronavirus
  8. How long is the recovery process?
  9. Prevention of canine coronavirus

What is canine coronavirus?

Canine coronavirus is a pathogenic virus that causes an infectious disease in dogs, regardless of factors such as age or breed, although it is true that puppies are most susceptible to the virus.

It is an acute disease. This virus is similar to the common cold that humans suffer from. There is no cure, it is passed from one organism to another and it is self-limiting. As it is an acute disease, there is no chance of chronicity.

The symptoms of the disease begin to manifest after the incubation period of the infection, which usually lasts between 24 and 36 hours. If the disease is prevalent, it is contagious. However, if treated in time there are usually no long-term complications or consequences.

Symptoms of canine coronavirus

If your dog has contracted this disease, take note of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • A temperature exceeding 40°C
  • Tremors
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Sudden and foul-smelling diarrhea with signs of blood and mucus.

Your pet may be infected but not show signs of every symptom listed here, so it is vital you go to the vet even if only one symptom is present. The success rate of the treatment largely depends on how quickly the disease is detected.

Canine Coronavirus - Symptoms of canine coronavirus

How is canine coronavirus spread?

Canine coronavirus is excreted through the faeces of a dog, therefore another dog may contract the disease through faecal-oral contact. This behaviour, called coprophagia, consists of eating feces and is the main way this disease spreads.

Once the canine coronavirus has entered the body and the incubation period has passed, it attacks the microvilli of the small intestine (the cells essential for absorbing nutrients) and causes the small intestine to stop functioning. This causes sudden diarrhea and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.

Canine Coronavirus - How is canine coronavirus spread?

Is canine coronavirus contagious to humans?

With the recent outbreaks of the coronavirus in humans (COVID-19). Many pet-companions have been asking whether the coronavirus is contagious between species. Before answering that, it's important to mention that coronavirsus are a large family of viruses. They vary from insignificant illnesses such as a common cold, to severe diseases such as the recent Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV-2), that was discovered in 2019. This virus, SARS-CoV-2, causes the 2019/2020 coronavirus disease also known as COVID-19.

According to the World Health Organization, the 2019 coronavirus is zoonotic, meaning that it can be transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa. In fact, they even mention an investigation that found SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus) transmitted from a civet cats to humans. The WHO also states that from phylogenetics analyses, they've determined that bats appear to be the reservoir of COVID-19, but the intermmediate host(s) have not yet been identified.

The canine coronavirus (Alpha-CoV) is placed under the subcategory of all coronaviruses “alphacorona 1”. These types of coronavirus are said to only be contagious to their own species. That means that Alpha-CoV is not contagious to humans.

However, if a dog is somehow infected with SARS-CoV-2 and therefore have the COVID-19, this can be transmitted to humans. There has not yet been a case presented of someone being infected by a domestic dog. Nevertheless, we know that although extremely rare, it is possible. This is why it's important to bring your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible so you can determine exactly what virus has infected your dog and understand how dangerous it can be.

Treatment of the canine coronavirus

As mentioned above, the treatment of canine coronavirus is palliative since there is no cure other than waiting for the disease to run its course. Ultimately, treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing complications.

You can use either one or a combination of the following methods of symptomatic treatment, depending on the case:

  • Fluids: In cases of severe dehydration it is important to replenish the body fluids of the animal.
  • Appetite stimulants: They help the dog to eat and prevent starvation.
  • Antiviral drugs: They decrease the severity of the virus.
  • Antibiotics: They aim to prevent secondary infections that may be caused by the virus.
  • Prokinetic agents: Prokinetic agents are drugs that improve the motility of the gastrointestinal tract. Included in this group are gastric mucosal protection, anti-diarrheal medication and antiemetic drugs which prevent vomiting.

Obviously, a vet is the only person qualified to recommend a treatment of drugs for your pet. These drugs must be used in accordance to the instructions given.

Canine Coronavirus - Treatment of the canine coronavirus

Is canine coronavirus curable?

Currently, there is no vaccine against canine coronavirus that acts as a cure. What does exist is a preventive vaccine made with modified live virus that allows the animal to be given enough immunity to protect itself against this disease. This doesn't mean that a vaccinated animal has complete immunity. However, the clinical signs will be milder and the recovery process will be shorter.

So, is canine coronavirus curable?

The fact that there is no cure for canine coronavirus does not mean that the animal cannot be cured. In fact, the mortality rate of the canine coronavirus is very low and usually includes immunosuppressed dogs, older dogs or puppies. With that being said, the coronavirus in dogs is curable.

How to care for a dog with coronavirus

Apart from the treatment against canine coronavirus stipulated by the veterinarian, it is important to take into account certain measures in order to prevent the virus from infecting other dogs and to promote the best recovery for the sick dog. It is recommended to take the following measures:

  • Keep the sick dog isolated: establishing a "quarantine" period until the animal completely eliminates the virus is essential to prevent further contamination. Also, since the virus is transmitted through feces, it is essential to collect them correctly and, if possible, disinfect the area.
  • Feed them foods rich in prebiotics and probiotics: both prebiotics and probiotics help restore the dog's intestinal flora and strengthen the immune system. So it is important to offer them these types of food during a recovery process like this, in which the virus has no cure other than to boost the immune system so it can fight the virus.
  • Establish a proper diet: a correct diet can also help strengthen the immune system of the dog, in addition to avoiding possible malnutrition. Likewise, making sure they drink water is very important to treat dehydration.
  • Avoid stress: stressful situations can greatly harm the clinical picture, therefore, when it comes to combating canine coronavirus, it should be taken into account that the animal must remain as calm as possible.

How long is the recovery process?

The duration of the canine coronavirus in a dog's organism is variable. The recovery time will depend entirely on each case. It will vary depending on the animal's immune system, on whether it presents secondary infections, if they can improve without difficulties, etc. Of course, throughout this process it is essential to keep the dog isolated from other dogs to avoid a possible spread of the virus.

A professional will be able to tell you with greater detail the case of your dog and their recovery process. As we've mentioned before, going to your local veterinarian as soon as possible is crucial for their recovery.

Canine Coronavirus - How long is the recovery process?

Prevention of canine coronavirus

Preventing canine coronavirus requires only two simple, yet completely necessary steps to keep your pet healthy:

  • Continue with their regular vaccinations
  • Maintain a good standard of hygiene amongst your dog's accessories such as toys or blankets.

You should also keep in mind that proper nutrition and sufficient exercise will help to keep your dog's immune system at its best.

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 Canine Coronavirus, we recommend you visit our Infectious diseases category.

  • Poder, P. (2011). Feline and Canine Coronaviruses: Common Genetic and Pathobiological Features. Advances in Virology, 609465. 10.1155/2011/609465
  • Tanaka, Y., Sasaki, T., Matsuda, R. (2015). Molecular Epidemiological Study of Feline Coronavirus in Japan Using RT-PCR Targeting Nsp14 Gene. BMC Vet Res, 11(57). 10.1186/s12917-015-0372-2
  • The World Health Organisation (2020) Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

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Canine Coronavirus