The Diagnosis and Control of Canine Coronavirus

Canine coronavirus causes sudden infection in the intestinal lining, manifesting itself in puppies or dogs with no signs of illness to severe illness. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite and diarrhea. It is different from canine parvo in that is does not destroy the rapidly growing intestinal cells, bone marrow or lymph tissue. This disease does not require dog surgery.

Coronavirus Is Highly Contagious

Coronavirus is highly contagious with no direct contact with an affected dog necessary. Infection can be transmitted by ingestion of material contaminated by dog feces by either smelling or licking a contaminated surface. Outbreaks have occurred at kennels and dog shows. Puppies and younger dogs are more susceptible. Vaccination can prevent this disease and is recommended for dogs that are often exposed to other dogs, such as show dogs. Symptoms can include loss of appetite, depression, vomiting and diarrhea (often with foul-smelling blood).

Diagnosing Canine Coronavirus

Since the symptoms of coronavirus are similar to those of parvovirus, initial testing will include a parvoviral test, in order to rule out this disease as well as other intestinal diseases. After a complete medical examination, stool examination, blood tests and abdominal x-rays will determine the severity of the infection.

Diagnostic tests will eliminate any other possible disease such as inflammation of the intestine, intestinal obstruction, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) or parasites, including worms.

The incubation period for canine coronavirus is 1 to 3 days. However, this highly-contagious disease can be spread via the feces of infected dogs for 6 to 9 days, and sometimes for as long as 6 months.

Coronavirus Treatment

Treatment includes constant intravenous fluids (for dehydration), antibiotics and anti-vomiting drugs, as well as rest to regain strength. Once vomiting has ceased, water intake should increase. Small but frequent feedings of bland food can start 12 to 24 hours after vomiting has ceased. Gradually over the course of 3 to 4 days, regular dog food can be introduced. If vomiting and/or diarrhea have not ceased after a few days, consult a veterinarian. All feces from the infected dog should be kept from all other dogs since it is likely to contain the virus. Most dogs recover quickly, leading normal lives, since the mortality rate is very low. Disinfectants often destroy the virus and should be used to prevent the disease from spreading.

Canine Respiratory Coronavirus

A similar disease affecting the lungs of dogs has been discovered in Europe and Japan in 2003. It has also appeared in Canada and the United States as recently as 2006 and perhaps as far back as 1996.