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In the dog community, the word “coronavirus” is far from new. For decades, we have known dogs can contract coronaviruses. In fact, Canine Coronavirus was first discovered in Germany in 1971 after an outbreak among guard dogs and vaccines have been available at most veterinary practices for years. These coronaviruses, however, are not the same virus that causes COVID-19 in people.

Common Types of Coronaviruses in Dogs

Canine Enteric Coronavirus (CECoV)

Canine enteric coronavirus is a highly contagious intestinal infection seen mostly in young puppies. It is spread by oral contact with infected feces and causes diarrhea that is self-limiting in adult dogs but can be more severe in young puppies. A vaccine is available. This virus is not contagious to other species.

Symptoms of CeCov:

  • depression/lethargy
  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhea or bloody diarrhea

Canine Respiratory Coronavirus (CRCoV)

Canine respiratory coronavirus is genetically related to the common cold in humans. It is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and causes acute respiratory symptoms and contributes to canine infectious respiratory disease complex (sometimes called CIRDC or kennel cough). No vaccine is available for this respiratory virus, although there are vaccines for some of the other causes of CIRDC, such as canine influenza virus, distemper virus, and Bordetella. Canine respiratory coronavirus is not contagious to other species.

Friendship between human and dog beagle - shaking hand and paw

Common Types of Coronaviruses in Humans

SARS-CoV

SARS-CoV (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus) was first recognized in China in 2002. This virus is believed to have originated in bats before it was transmitted to civet cats and then humans. No cases have been reported worldwide since 2004. This virus is not thought to be a threat to dogs.

MERS-CoV

MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Since then all cases have been linked to countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula. This virus is believed to have originated in bats before it was transmitted to dromedary camels and then humans. This virus is not thought to be a threat to dogs.

SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)

SARS-CoV-2 is a viral infection identified as the cause of a respiratory illness outbreak in humans first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” or “COVID-19.” The first infection with SARS-CoV-2 in the United States was reported on January 21, 2020 and it was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020. This virus is not thought to be a threat to dogs.

Can a Canine Coronavirus Be Passed to Humans?

There is a May 2021 report about the finding of a canine coronavirus in a small number of Malaysian hospitalized patients in 2018. This not the same coronavirus as the one that causes COVID-19. The report signifies correlation, but not causation in those patients and at this time, the virus does not appear to pose any significant human health concern.

These findings were a result of a new test that has a more refined way of detecting the changes a virus must go through in order to infect humans. This new information may, hopefully,  be helpful in future early detection of new coronavirus infections, as well as treatment and prevention.

If you are worried that your dog may be exhibiting symptoms of canine coronavirus, contact your vet immediately.

Related article: Can Dogs Get Coronavirus?
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