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Protect your pets from coronavirus

How to protect your animals from coronavirus. Find out if your pets can contract coronavirus.

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How to protect your pets from coronavirus


Are you worried about your pets contracting the coronavirus? Is there a chance for coronavirus in cats or dogs? Here are some facts and what you can do about it. 

First and foremost, “Coronaviruses occur in virtually every species of animal, including humans, and are commonly associated with unapparent or transient intestinal and respiratory infections. They tend to be very species-specific and cross-species transmission is uncommon,” the school said on its website earlier this month.

The same appears to be true for cats and dogs. Even though canines can contract certain coronaviruses, according to the American Kennel Association “at present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus,” the World Health Organization (WHO) recently said.

In recent news some images spread from China where you might have seen a cat or a dog wear surgical masks and you might wonder if you should do the same for your pet? Again, there is no evidence that cats or dogs can contract the current coronavirus nor do these masks protect your pet from it. 

However there are common coronaviruses that appear in our pets and we take a look at them below. Remember they have nothing to do with the human coronavirus. 

Coronavirus infection in cats / Feline coronavirus


Cats are susceptible to natural infection with several strains of feline coronavirus that may result in either effusive and noneffusive FIP disease or in subclinical to severe enteritis.

What is feline infectious peritonitis? 

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is an important disease of domestic cats. It occurs worldwide in cats of all ages, but the disease is most common in young cats less than two years of age. Although FIP is not a particularly common disease, it is important because once a cat develops the disease, the outcome is almost invariably fatal.

What is the cause of FIP? 

FIP is associated with a viral infection called feline coronavirus. There are many different strains of feline coronavirus, which differ in their ability to cause disease. Previously there had been an attempt to classify these strains as either feline infectious peritonitis virus strains (capable of causing the FIP disease) or feline enteric coronavirus strains (essentially harmless strains mainly found in the intestinal tract). It is now recognized that feline enteric coronavirus strains can mutate (change) to the more harmful type of virus and cause FIP disease.

Investigators are still unsure of the routes by which strains of coronavirus are transmitted between cats.

Excretion of coronavirus by infected cats into the environment occurs by way of feces, oronasal secretions, and, possibly, urine. FIP coronavirus remains stable outside the host for as long as 3 to 7 weeks and is rapidly inactivated by most household disinfectants. Clinical diagnosis of coronavirus infection is made by evaluating the presenting history, physical findings, laboratory results, coronavirus antibody titers, and by excluding analogous disease.

The presence of coronavirus antibodies can be used to screen cats for the presence of coronavirus infection and as an adjunct in diagnosing clinical coronavirus infection. A intranasal TS-FIPV vaccine that protects against natural coronavirus challenge is available for healthy cats 16 weeks of age or older

Is there any treatment for FIP?

Unfortunately FIP is fatal in almost all cases. Supportive treatments may extend longevity and improve quality of life, however, there is no specific cure. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids (e.g., prednisolone) in combination with certain drugs that suppress the immune system (e.g., cyclophosphamide), may temporarily reduce inflammation and improve the cat’s quality of life. An experimental drug, polyprenyl immunostimulant (PI), is currently being investigated for use in the dry form of FIP. For the clinically ill cat, once FIP has been diagnosed, euthanasia may be the most humane and appropriate course of action.

Is there a vaccine for FIP?
In recent years, some manufacturers have developed vaccines to help in the prevention of FIP. Because the method of transmission and the sequence of events leading to clinical FIP disease are poorly understood, and because infection may have occurred before vaccination, the success of vaccination is not certain. Currently the vaccines for FIP are not recommended for general use. You and your veterinarian can discuss whether vaccination is appropriate for your cat.

Coronavirus infection in dogs / Canine coronavirus

What is canine coronavirus disease?
Coronavirus disease is a highly infectious intestinal infection in dogs, especially puppies. Coronavirus is usually short-lived, but may cause considerable abdominal discomfort for a few days in infected dogs. The cause is a virus of the Coronaviridae family. The virus gets its name from the fact that when viewed from above under an electron microscope, the virus has a ring of projections that appear like a coronet, or a small crown made of ornaments fixed on a metal ring. Different coronaviruses cause infections in many species of animals and birds. Canine coronavirus does not affect people.
How is canine coronavirus transmitted?
Most cases of canine coronavirus are contracted by oral contact with infected fecal matter. A dog may also become infected by eating from contaminated food bowls or by direct contact with an infected dog.
“Crowding and unsanitary conditions favor transmission.” Crowding and unsanitary conditions lead to coronavirus transmission. The incubation period from ingestion to clinical signs is one to four days. The duration of illness is two to ten days in most dogs. Secondary infections by bacteria, parasites, and other viruses may develop and prolong illness and recovery. Dogs may be carriers of the disease for up to six months (180 days) after infection.
What are the signs of canine coronavirus?
Most coronavirus infections are sub-clinical and produce few clinical signs in dogs. Occasionally an infection may cause more severe symptoms, particularly in young pups. The most typical symptom is diarrhea, typically sudden in onset, which may be accompanied by lethargy and decreased appetite. The stool is loose, with a fetid odor and orange tint. It may contain blood or mucus. If a pup has a mixed infection, for instance both coronavirus and parvovirus (see the Client Education Handout “Canine Parvovirus”), the illness will be more severe.
Are there diseases that can be confused with coronavirus?

There are many causes of diarrhea in dogs. Severe cases of coronavirus can be easily confused with parvovirus, and they may occur at the same time. Be sure to see your veterinarian if your dog has diarrhea that does not resolve within twenty-four hours or is associated with significant lethargy or loss of appetite.

Is there any treatment?

There is no specific treatment for coronavirus.
“Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, but may be useful in controlling secondary bacterial infections.”

Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, but may be useful in controlling secondary bacterial infections.

Withholding food for twenty-four hours after diarrhea ceases and gradually reintroducing small amounts of food may be the only required treatment. A dehydrated patient may require intravenous fluids to correct the fluid and electrolyte imbalances. Early medical intervention is the key to successful treatment of severe cases.

What about vaccines?
Canine coronavirus vaccines are available. This vaccine is not recommended for all dogs and will be administered based on your dog’s lifestyle and risk assessment.

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