By now you’ve probably already heard about the Coronavirus, and you may have even had a little mini panic attack when you’ve heard someone cough in public. At times like these, you also may be worried about the health of your pet if you’re a dog owner – particularly if you’ve heard the phrase, “Canine Coronavirus.”
But don’t panic – we are here to answer the two questions every dog owner is thinking, “Can my dog get Coronavirus?” Or worse yet, “Can I give my dog Coronavirus?”
While people are largely referring to the current illness going around as the “Coronavirus,” the term in fact, is applicable to a family of viruses that have a “crown” appearance when viewed under an electron microscope, called Coronaviridae – hence the name. The current strain, which was first noted back in December, is being referred to as 2019-CoV. Other strains you may have heard of include SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. Both of these strains started a panic when they first came out, but they have since died down.
The 2019-CoV is believed to have originated at a wet market in Wuhan, China, through the consumption of snakes that were infected with the virus. As of today, there are over 2,500 confirmed cases in China. However, outside of China, there are only 56 cases of infection, including 5 in the United States – and all of these appear to have been a result of recent visits to Wuhan, China.
And yes, the current strain is being linked to snakes sold in a market, meaning that it appears that animals carrying the virus can pass it along to humans through meat consumption. However, this is still under investigation by the Center for Disease Control.
And yes, there is a Canine Coronavirus Disease – however, it should be noted that it doesn’t appear to be linked to the strain that is currently in the news.
Canine Coronavirus gets its name from the same characteristic that the human viruses get theirs from – a round, crown-like appearance when viewed under an electron microscope. Most cases of Canine Coronavirus come from a dog eating feces that carry the virus – which is just another reason to keep your dog away from any poop they might find while out at the park.
According to VCA Hospitals, the Canine Coronavirus Disease does NOT affect humans.
So, what are the symptoms? Coronavirus in dogs doesn’t often cause symptoms, but on occasion, it will present itself in a sudden onset of diarrhea, along with lethargy and a poor appetite. Your dog’s diarrhea may contain blood or mucus, and if the infection occurs while your dog is suffering from another disease, like Parvovirus, it will most likely become severe.
Of course, these symptoms can be an indication of a variety of health issues, so it’s important to see your vet should your dog start showing any sign that something is off.
So, you may be wondering if you can contract Coronavirus from your dog? At this point, there have been no reported cases of the 2019-CoV in dogs.
However, previous strains of Coronavirus were traced back to human-animal contact. For example, SARS-CoV appears to have been caused through contact with civet cats, and MERS from dromedary camels. 2019-CoV is thought to have first been transferred to humans through snakes sold at a market in Wuhan. After infecting the human host, the virus causes respiratory problems. It is then spread from human to human through the air, via a cough or sneeze.
If you believe that you might have been infected, you should immediately contact your doctor and let them know you think you’ve been infected before you go see them, that way they can take precautions. You can find more information about preventing the spread of Coronavirus at CDC.gov.
Previous strains of Coronavirus show that some mammals, like camels and civet cats, can get Coronavirus and infect humans. However, there doesn’t appear to be any cases of humans infected with the Coronavirus then infecting their pets. So, no, it doesn’t look like you can give the disease to your pets.
Regardless, your first defense should always be good hygiene – wash your hands often, and always cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
Good hygiene practices should always be your first defense – wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth when you sneeze. For your dog – just try to keep him from eating poop, pick up after him when he goes bathroom, and regularly bath him.
You can learn more about 2019-nCoV at CDC.gov.