Canine Coronavirus Facts

Canine Coronavirus: All the Facts You Need to Know

As of May 2020, there have been over 300,000 deaths worldwide due to COVID-19. This makes it one of the most deadly viruses in history. 

This has also led to one of the largest global pandemics in history. It has also caused many people to wonder how to protect themselves and their families. 

Despite this many people still want clarification about canines and coronavirus. Do canine coronavirus cases exist? If so, then how do we treat them?

If you’re worried about COVID-19 and how it can impact your pets the check out our guide below.

What is COVID-19?

At the beginning of March 2020, the WHO (World Health Organization) labeled the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 a global pandemic. 

This is a new disease caused by a new type of coronavirus. It often results in mild respiratory problems and quick recovery. But for people who are older and have weakened immune systems may develop more dangerous symptoms.

The disease is primarily spread through droplets of spit or mucus coming from the nose or mouth when someone sneezes or coughs. 

It typically takes around 5 days for symptoms to appear but it can take up to 14 days for certain cases.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fatigued, coughing, and fever. It can also have more rare symptoms include body aches, skin rashes, diarrhea, 

In most dangerous symptoms are things like chest pangs and pressure, difficulty breathing, and limited movement or mobility. If you find yourself or someone you know with the most serious symptoms please seek medical attention immediately.

How Does a Dog’s Immune System Work?

Before we can understand if our dogs got coronavirus we need to know how a canines immune system works. We’re going to provide a brief overview of how dog immune systems work. This will help us understand how a dog’s biology impacts how vulnerable they are to the virus.

The immune system’s job is to provide protection from diseases by attacking any foreign invaders. It’s comprised of antibodies, white blood cells, and other elements that fight off infections. These can also include organs like skin and thymus.

A dog’s immune system can be divided into two parts based on how specific their functions. These are their innate and adaptive immune systems. 

The innate system is the first to offer protection against any viruses or illnesses. Every organism has an innate immune system these include things like bark on trees or cellular walls on bacteria. In animals like dogs, this includes their outer layer of skin.

This system does not change or adapt its impact depending on the threat and regular exposure to threats doesn’t increase its potency. Also included in this system are things like mucus, stomach acid, and chemicals in spit. Cells in the body called macrophages meaning ‘bug eaters’ and phagocytes ‘eaters’ eat any foreign entity on sight.

The second part of the dog’s immune system is the adaptive immune system. Which adapts to each individual threat that their body is faced with.

When the virus is blocked by the innate system, the dog won’t get sick. If this doesn’t happen the adaptive immune system cure the virus. If not it will mount an even more aggressive defense against the virus. If neither of these defense systems works the dog may continue to get sick or die.

How COVID-19 Impacts People

To get a better understanding of how COVID-19 might impact dogs lets see how this impacts the human body.

The first phase of COVID-19 everybody is cell invasion. The virus enters into the body using a receptor ACE2. The ACE2 receptors are found in the back of the throat, the lungs, and in the gut.

The virus then hijacks the cell and instructs the cell to make millions of copies of itself. Later triggering an immune response.

The second phase is when the virus reproduces in the lungs and warns the immune system of what’s going on. Studies have also shown that a lot of virus reproduction happens in the respiratory tract.

The immune system after becoming aware of the foreign protein in the body it begins to protect the body. This triggers the lymphocytes to produce both short term antibodies to defend the body against foreign bodies. Later it produces long term antibodies to counteract the specific threat.

Around 13.8% of people diagnosed with COVID-19 will experience a serious form of the disease. Also, around 75% of these people will show signs of pneumonia. This will happens when the lungs collapse and as a result, of the immune response causing a rush of white blood cells to the lungs as well as dilating the blood vessels. 

The fluid then puts a lot of pressure on the tiny air sacs in the lungs causing them to collapse in. 

As a consequence, this makes breathing harder. Also, the layer where the where air transfer occurs becomes smaller leading to shortness of breath. The body in reaction promotes an inflammatory response from the immune system. Thankfully this phase is uncommon and most patients who end up this sick usually recover.

If the person doesn’t recover they will suffer from something called ARDS or acute respiratory distress syndrome. This causes blood clots to form in the small blood vessels in the lungs. These blood vessels are involved in an exchange of fluid between 

Typically when someone reaches this stage drugs that are used to prevent strokes are administered to stop the blood from clotting. 

There is also another immune response at the phase which can cause a severe health risk. When white blood cells enter the area they unleashed things called cytokines. These cytokines are meant to fully surround the affected cells. 

They make the blood vessel walls more porous making it easier to penetrate. When this happens in the most intense cases it will cause a shut down of the cardiovascular system.

Canine Coronavirus Cases: Is It a Real Threat?

Let’s ask the basic question: Can dogs get viruses? Specifically, can dogs get coronavirus?

The short answer is yes. Dogs can get a version of the coronavirus called the canine respiratory coronavirus. Luckily this version of the coronavirus is not harmful to the health of dogs. It does mean that dogs can sometimes test positive for the virus.

One of the first cases of a dog testing positive for the coronavirus was Winston, a pug from North Carolina. Though after examining the data more closely it was instead found to be a weak positive. It should also be noted that of the three people in the house two tested positive for COVID-19.

Experts doubted that the dog was showing any symptoms given that pugs already have upper respiratory issues. It’s also very likely that the dog may have never been infected. He licked up parts of the virus from his owners. 

It should be noted that another domestic pet a cat and the family’s other daughter did not test positive for the virus.

How does a dog get coronavirus? If a dog can test positive for the coronavirus then does it mean they can have symptoms?

The answer is through close proximity to humans that have been infected by the virus. To answer this question multiple cases of coronavirus in dogs were found in Hong Kong

The answer to the next question is that the dogs that have been found to have the coronavirus have not been shown to have symptoms.

Can You Give Coronavirus to Your Pet?

Can you give the virus to your pet? And does COVID-19 spread differently in dogs then it does in humans?

In short yes you can give coronavirus to your pets. There have been cases of coronavirus found in both cats and dogs.

An example of this comes from Hong Kong where 2 dogs were found to have contracted the virus. These were after tests were performed by Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department. They tested 17 household pets and of them, they only found 2 of the dogs had contracted COVID-19.

These cases were probably the first cases of humans to the animal transfer of the disease. Though all the officials were quick to point out that these findings show that transmission between humans and pets is very difficult.

Can Your Pet Give COVID-19 to You?

The CDC has announced that this means that it’s not justifiable to take actions that bother 

Officials in Hong Kong have also confirmed that cats and dogs are not easily impacted by the virus and most likely can’t transfer it to humans.

A veterinarian and USDA official Dr. Jane Rooney has noted that animals don’t seem to be a source or transmitter of the virus in the united states.

Protecting Your Pup

If you’re still worried about whether or not you or your dog can contract COVID-19 the best thing you can do is follow the CDC guidelines to protect yourself and everyone in your life.

These guidelines include frequently washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t accessible wash with a hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol. You should also avoid touching your face especially your eyes, nose, and mouth.

You should also clean and disinfect areas that you are in frequent contact with. Using an EPA registered household disinfectant. 

You should also follow strict social distancing guidelines in place and try to stay 6 feet away from each other. You should also wear face coverings and masks when entering a public place. Dogs don’t need any face masks to prevent COVID-19.

Can Other Pets Contract Coronavirus?

Now that you know how to protect your pup are there any other animals in the house you need to worry about?

Unfortunately, information about COVID-19 in other animals has shown that cats can contract COVID-9. In New York, two domestic cats have tested positive for the virus. Both cats showed symptoms of the virus including respiratory issues.

Though one cat contracted it from a home where a person already had the virus another contracted it even though no one in the house had the disease. 

There are also wild animals that are vulnerable to this disease. In April of this year, a 4-year-old tiger was found to be one of the first cases of an animal in the United States with the virus. At New York’s Bronx Zoo there are eight tigers with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

All of these animals are doing well and eating normally and their coughing has mostly gone away.

Walking Your Dog with During Quarantine: How to Stay Safe

You can protect yourself and your dogs on walks by wearing face protection and by following social distancing orders that require 6 feet of separation from people.

Unlike cats, dogs require outdoor physical stimuli to stay physically and mentally healthy. You should that your dog is collared and has an appropriate 6-foot leash. This means if your city allows it you should following any local shelter in place orders in your area.

Ultimately, the best way to keep your dog safe is to protect them from going op to random strangers with the proper dog training.

Petting Your Puppy: Is It Safe During Coronavirus?

Thankfully petting puppies present little risk of contracting the coronavirus. According to Gail Golab who is the chief of the American Veterinary Medical Association or AVMA there is very little risk of catching the virus from dogs or cats.

This is because the virus thrives smooth surfaces. These can be things like countertops and tables. But it often struggles to survive on things like fur which are more porous. 

This is because these surfaces capture the pathogens making it harder to catch the virus through touch. It is still recommended that if you have children you should avoid letting them touch a dog as they might be exposed to other contaminants.

There are CDC guidelines on keeping pets safe that include preventing your pet from socializing with unknown animals or people. It also involves keeping cats and other animals inside whenever possible.

Interested in Getting a Service Dog?

Canine coronavirus cases are rare and you’re unlikely to give it to your pets or contract it from them. You should still follow guidelines in your state to keep your dog safe when walking them. Doing this requires proper dog training and equipment like leashes that allow for social distancing. 

If you still have questions about the health and safety of your pets or if you need a service dog to help you in your day to day life then contact us today.