Canine and Feline Coronavirus
With all the buzz about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) currently, we have received several questions about Coronavirus in pets. Though they share the same name, they are actually different diseases. In fact, the first coronavirus to be reported in dogs was in 1974 and the first coronavirus identified in cats, commonly known as Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), was reported in 1970. At TCAP, we believe it is important for you to stay informed about the threats your pet faces and what you can do to make the best decisions for their health so we have assembled some answers to common questions we have received.
What are Coronaviruses?
The coronavirus gets its name from the crown-like spikes on its surface (“corona” in Latin translates to “crown”). The genus coronavirus is composed of at least three groups that cause mild to severe intestinal, respiratory, or systemic disease and it is important to note that Coronavirus in canines and felines is very different from COVID-19 In humans.
Did COVID-19 Spread From Animals to Humans?
Although not common, coronaviruses can be transmitted from animals to humans. Bats can be reservoir hosts for viruses which can cross species barriers to infect humans and other domestic and wild mammals. In the last two major coronaviruses that were transmitted to humans, transmission occurred through intermediate hosts: the masked palm civet (SARS) and dromedary camels (MERS).
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCOV), now known officially as COVID-19 or Corona Virus Disease, is thought to have originated in bats and transmitted to humans through an intermediate animal host. Investigations are still ongoing, but the good news is that according to the CDC, there is no evidence at this time to suggest that dogs or cats will become a source of infection of COVID-19 in other animals or humans. With that being said, the CDC does recommend that “You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.”
Canine Coronavirus disease is a highly infectious intestinal infection in dogs. And while Canine Coronavirus does not affect humans, it is especially prevalent in puppies. While the disease does tend to be short-lived, it does cause intestinal discomfort for affected dogs. Most Canine Coronavirus infections 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. For this reason, it is often confused as Parvo.
There is no current treatment for Canine Coronavirus. If you suspect that your pet has this disease, contact your local full service veterinary clinic to schedule an exam and to discuss best practices to increase your dog’s comfort and quicken their recovery time. While TCAP does not carry a vaccine for Canine Coronavirus, they are available at your local full service veterinary clinic. Usually this vaccines is only administered based on your dog’s lifestyle and risk assessment.
Feline Coronavirus comes in two forms, the first (FCoV) is fairly common in cats and is generally asymptomatic, but can cause mild diarrhea in some cases. Cats infected with FCoV tend to recover easily without treatment. The second version is a more extreme mutation of (FCoV) and it is known as feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). FIP is a viral disease that occurs worldwide in wild and domestic cats and it tends to attack the cells of the intestinal wall.
FIP manifests in a “wet” form and a “dry” form. Signs of both forms include anorexia, weight loss, lethargy, and a fever that doesn’t respond to antibiotics. In addition, the wet form of FIP is characterized by accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity, the chest cavity, or both. Cats with fluid in the chest exhibit labored breathing. Cats with fluid in the abdomen show progressive, non-painful abdominal distension. In the dry form of FIP, granulomas (small accumulations of inflammatory cells) form in various organs, and symptoms vary depending on which organ is affected. If the kidneys are affected, excessive thirst and urination, vomiting and weight loss are seen; if the liver, jaundice. The eyes and the neurologic system are frequently affected, as well. If you suspect that your cat has FIP and you live in a multi-cat household, it is recommended that you keep them separate from other cats and contact your full service veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment options.
TCAP does not provide treatments or vaccines against the Coronavirus, but we do believe it is essential to stay informed on what signs to look for and how best to react to cases of suspected cases of Coronavirus. If you would like to learn more about Canine or Feline Coronavirus, please contact your local full service veterinarian for more information.
If you plan to visit a TCAP facility in the near future, we do have updated guidelines to ensure your safety and the safety of our staff in relation to COVID-19. Please familiarize yourself with these guidelines prior to your visit: https://texasforthem.org/about/what-covid-19-means-for-our-clinics