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What is Canine Coronavirus?

There are two unrelated types of canine coronavirus, each with different symptoms and primary transmission routes: canine enteric coronavirus (CECoV), an intestinal infection, and canine respiratory coronavirus (CRCoV), a respiratory infection.

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What causes canine coronavirus?

Canine enteric coronavirus (CECoV or CCoV) is a highly contagious intestinal infection caused by the enteric (relating to or occurring in the intestines) coronavirus strain that can affect all dogs but is most commonly seen in puppies. The symptoms, typically diarrhea and vomiting, are generally not severe. As a point of possible interest, there are two strains of CECoV: type II, the original strain, and type I, the strain more recently identified in 2003. The nuanced differences of type I and type II strains of CECoV are beyond the scope of this overview.

Canine respiratory coronavirus (CRCoV) is a highly infectious respiratory infection that is related genetically to bovine (cattle) coronavirus and the common cold, a human coronavirus. Simply put, this coronavirus strain, CRCoV, is in the group of pathogens that cause canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD) or, as it is more commonly called, kennel cough.

How is canine coronavirus transmitted?

Canine enteric coronavirus (CECoV) transmission is typically attributed to oral contact with infected feces. However, it is unclear whether it may also be spread via the aerosol route. (Licitra BN, et al. Canine enteric coronaviruses: emerging viral pathogens with distinct recombinant spike proteins. Viruses. 2014.)

Canine respiratory coronavirus (CRCoV), like canine (kennel) cough, is spread through the air via aerosolized respiratory secretions, by direct contact with contaminated objects, or by direct contact with infected dogs. For more information on these transmission routes, visit our kennel cough page.

What are the symptoms of canine coronavirus?

Canine enteric coronavirus (CECoV) symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting, along with lethargy and a decreased appetite. As noted in the 2014 study cited, above, while this canine coronavirus has “traditionally caused mild gastro-intestinal clinical signs,” there have been increasing reports of more deadly infections in dogs and CECoV is “now considered to be an emerging infectious disease of dogs.” Canine enteric coronavirus can also act as a co-infection with other pathogens such as canine parvovirus which, together, may create more serious repercussions.

Canine respiratory coronavirus (CRCoV) symptoms align with those typical of canine (kennel) cough: coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge. If a dog is also infected with other respiratory bacteria or viruses, CRCoV may progress to pneumonia.

How can canine coronavirus be prevented?

Canine enteric coronavirus (CECoV) has a variety of vaccines commercially available and designed to prevent infection but, as noted in the 2014 study described, above, “provide only incomplete protection—in that they reduce, but do not eliminate, CCoV replication in the intestinal tract.”

Canine respiratory coronavirus (CRCoV) does not have a currently available vaccine to prevent infection or reduce the disease. Because CRCoV is unrelated to CECoV, those vaccines are not effective.

As always, air and surface sanitation protocols should be used to help stop or control the spread of illness, along with protocols for separating and isolating infected dogs. For more information and details for both pet care facilities and pet parents on how best to prevent the spread of infectious disease, visit our kennel cough page.

How is canine coronavirus treated?

The following is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment for your pet. Consult your veterinarian for questions and information regarding your pet’s health.

Canine enteric coronavirus (CECoV), unless part of a co-infection, is typically mild and symptoms, while unpleasant, should resolve on their own. There are no available anti-viral drugs for treatment, however, maintenance with fluid and electrolytes can offer supportive care.

Canine respiratory coronavirus (CRCoV) does not have a specific anti-viral therapy available, but supportive care can be offered. If there are signs of a secondary bacterial infection, antibiotics may be used.

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