The coronavirus is now on the lips of all news readers across the planet. The epidemic that started in Wuhan is particularly raging in China at the moment. It is actually caused by 2019-nCoV, a virus belonging to the genus coronavirus.
Perhaps you have followed the news and know that a large number of animal owners in China now arm their doggie with a face mask to protect them from infection by this virus.
Is it really necessary? Have you even thought about it?
The large family of coronaviruses includes around 40 different viruses and some can infect cats and dogs. But what about the dreaded 2019-nCoV (or COVID-19)?
HOW DOES CORONAVIRUS MANIFEST IN HUMANS?
The new 2019-nCoV coronavirus strain can severely affect some people and cause their death. This new coronavirus is manifested by damage to the respiratory system. It will cause the following symptoms:
Much like the flu virus, these signs may be minor for some and severe for others, depending on how effective their immune system is at fighting the intruder.
In these immunocompromised people, a secondary bacterial infection (pneumonia, for example) can develop and complicate their state of health.
CAN CORONAVIRUS TRANSMIT TO DOGS AND CATS?
This question has not yet been studied by scientists as the phenomenon is very recent. It is therefore difficult to answer with certainty.
However, I can tell you that no case of 2019-nCoV infection in dogs and cats has been officially reported to date. Your dog therefore does not need a face mask to protect himself from it.
On the other hand, as it is a virus which has the capacity to mutate, and as we still know little about it, it is recommended to use precaution and to avoid the contacts with animals presenting influenza symptoms , especially in the Chinese regions.
CORONAVIRUS (CCOV) IN DOGS
Can my dog get coronavirus? Although possibly sheltered from the famous 2019-nCoV coronavirus, your dog may get other strains of coronavirus.
Indeed, the dog can contract a canine coronavirus which reaches the respiratory system (CRCoV) and two coronaviruses which infect the digestive system (CCoV type I and II).
“RESPIRATORY” CORONAVIRUS IN DOGS (CRCOV)
It is part of the kennel cough complex. In other words, when a dog gets kennel cough from contact with another dog or with a contaminated surface, it catches both this virus (or another), as well as a bacterium (Bordetella bronchiseptica).
These act together and cause respiratory problems. This infection is very contagious between dogs.
“INTESTINAL” CORONAVIRUS IN DOGS (CCOV TYPE I AND II)
It also causes a very contagious infection, especially in puppies. It mainly causes diarrhea, but is generally without serious consequences. However, it can be dangerous when combined with another disease such as parvovirus.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CANINE CORONAVIRUS?
The signs vary depending on the type of infection, as mentioned above. Here is a list of the symptoms found according to the type of canine coronavirus.
SYMPTOMS OF “RESPIRATORY” CORONAVIRUS
- Hoarse cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Decreased energy
SYMPTOMS OF THE “INTESTINAL” CORONAVIRUS
- Loose stools
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting (often only one)
- Decreased energy
- Fever (rare)
There is a vaccine against the dog’s intestinal coronavirus. However, it is not unanimous in the veterinary world. This virus mainly affects young puppies. Dogs old enough to be vaccinated are therefore less likely to get the virus.
CAN CANINE CORONAVIRUS SPREAD TO HUMANS?
According to current knowledge, dogs cannot transmit the coronavirus to humans, regardless of its type (respiratory or intestinal).
However, it can transmit other types of viruses, bacteria or fungi. So, if you doubt your dog’s diagnosis, it is best to check with a veterinarian to limit the risk of transmission.
CORONAVIRUS (FCOV) IN CATS
Can my cat get coronavirus? As mentioned above, your cat probably cannot catch the famous 2019-nCoV coronavirus, which affects humans.
However, it is vulnerable to feline coronavirus (FCoV). This virus can take many forms and can be mild or fatal.
FEMALE “INTESTINAL” CORONAVIRUS (FECV)
What is coronavirus in cats? The first form of feline coronavirus (FECV) is called feline enteric coronavirus (intestinal) and can cause digestive upset and symptoms such as diarrhea and sometimes vomiting. It is considered mild and is often asymptomatic (without symptoms).
The coronavirus is transmitted very contagiously via the stool and saliva. Cats living in communities or sharing a litter box, as well as cats traveling outside are therefore at greater risk of getting this virus.
FIP IN THE CAT
Coronavirus in cats becomes worrisome when it causes feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).
What is PIF in cats? Following errors in its replication, the coronavirus undergoes what is called a mutation. It therefore changes from the “intestinal” form to a new form that can cause this very dangerous disease.
How do cats get BIP? The coronavirus in question is mainly transmitted by stool (oral-faecal contact), but also via aerosols (much like the flu).
Feline infectious peritonitis can progress in two ways, either to a wet or dry form. Among other things, wet BIP results in an accumulation of fluids in the abdominal cavity or chest, which, as you might expect, is not good news.
SYMPTOMS OF FELINE CORONAVIRUS (FELINE INFECTIOUS PERITONITIS)
Above all, feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is difficult to diagnose, resulting in classic symptoms in its early stages. A cat may first lose its appetite, have a fever and be lethargic.
A cat with FIP will not see its condition improved following antibiotic treatment.
SYMPTOMS OF THE WET FORM OF FELIN INFECTIOUS PERITONITIS (PIF)
Depending on the organs affected, a cat can have different symptoms.
- Accumulation of fluid in the chest can cause breathing problems
- If the digestive system is affected, it may suffer from diarrhea or
- Swollen abdomen
SYMPTOMS OF THE DRY FORM OF FELIN INFECTIOUS PERITONITIS (PIF)
The dry form of the disease can affect other organs or systems, such as the eyes, liver, nervous system, or kidneys. Here are some examples of signs of FIP:
- Kidney infection
- Renal failure
- Hepatic insufficiency
As you can see, the signs are very varied, which makes its detection difficult. A definite diagnosis can only be made post-mortem. Some tests exist, however, to help the veterinarian distinguish feline infectious peritonitis from other diseases.
To summarize, there is currently no evidence that your pets are at risk of contracting the famous 2019-nCoV coronavirus. That said, they are not immune to all coronaviruses.
Dogs can get some forms of coronavirus, causing digestive or respiratory problems. As for cats, they can contract a mild intestinal form of coronavirus, but which can develop into a potentially fatal disease, namely feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).
So there is no need to put a mask on your dog’s face, but it is still wise to use prevention strategies to avoid the transmission of other coronaviruses than 2019-nCoV.