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Corona Virus in Pets
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Let’s start by saying there is NO PROOF AT THIS TIME THAT PETS CAN CONTRACT COVID-19. This means that if pets can not be infected with COVID-19 they cannot spread it to humans.
Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that were identified over 50 years ago. Some infect humans and others infect different types of animals. Rarely they can be zoonotic (transfer from animals to humans), examples of this are SARS and MERS. It is suspected but not fully confirmed that COVID-19 could be a zoonosis.
Canine and Feline Coronaviruses are wide spread amongst the pet population but infect just those species.
Canine Corona Virus CCoV – NOT transmissible to humans.
Canine Corona virus is a highly infectious virus in dogs that can cause abdominal discomfort and diarrhoea but very often the infected pet does not show signs of carrying the virus.
Dogs can contract the virus from infected faeces, contact with an infected pet or with an item contaminated with the virus such as a food bowl. This virus thrives in crowded or unsanitary conditions.
The illness lasts between two and ten days with clinical signs ranging from very mild to more severe especially in puppies. Signs that will be noticed are lethargy, decreased appetite and smelly diarrhoea. There is no specific treatment for Canine Corona Virus just symptomatic support. Very often signs are self-limiting and no treatment is needed.
Puppies suffering from Canine Corona Virus often present with a concurrent bacterial, parasitic, protozol or other viral infection making them much more ill. This is often due to poor husbandry / overcrowding at the breeding establishment.
Dogs that have had Canine Corona Virus can shed the virus for up to 6-months after the infection.
As this virus is highly infectious thorough and vigilant hygiene is needed, including quickly clearing faeces and thorough washing of all equipment used for dogs, especially puppies. There is a vaccination against this strain of Cornoa Virus but it is not recommended / required for most dogs and is usually only used in young pups.
Feline Corona Virus (FCoV) which can cause the disease known as Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) – NOT transmissible to Humans.
Feline Corona Virus is a common and a highly infectious disease in cats. The virus is shed in the faeces of infected cats. Very often infected cats are asymptomatic but some suffer from mild diarrhoea.
Kittens can suffer more severe symptoms that adult cats with them becoming lethargic, inappetence and having watery diarrhoea.
For many cats this disease is self-limiting and they eliminate the virus from their body and recover. Only the more severe cases will need treatment and this will be supportive symptomatic treatment.
In some cats the infection persists and these cats become asymptomatic carriers of the disease. These carrier cats and cats that are in frequent contact with them have a higher risk of the disease mutating in to Feline Infectious Peritonitis, a much more serious condition.
Feline Infectious Peritonitis is more likely in multi-cat households and is seen more often in pure breed cats than moggies. Extremely good hygiene is required to minimise the spread of the virus from an infected cat’s faeces, saliva or other body fluid. In fact, in multi-cat households where the cats interact this is impossible.
There are two forms of the disease: Effusive where fluid forms in the abdominal or chest cavity or the Non- Effusive form which causes neurological signs such as difficult walking or standing, paralysis or blindness. All infected cats will have a fever, be lethargic, have weight loss and be in appetent.
Sadly even with the most recent advances in the treatment of Feline Infectious Peritonitis it is fatal, treatment is just supportive and buys some time.
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