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What you need to know By Andrew Little, MCRVS

Canine coronavirus is not the most well-known dog disease yet it’s more common than infectious diseases, such as Parvovirus and Distemper and has a worrying ability to magnify the severity of other diseases.

Here’s an example. Parvo’ is serious and can sometimes prove fatal. But when coronavirus is also present, the mortality rate increases dramatically. In one study, the mortality rate went from 0% for dogs with Parvo’ alone to 89% when Parvo’ and coronavirus were both present. A chilling fact!

Perhaps coronavirus has remained out of the spotlight because it is difficult to diagnose. Initial signs include lethargy, anorexia and depression. This can progress to severe diarrhoea, then dehydration and weight loss. On occasion, deaths have been attributed to coronavirus infection.

According to researchers, roughly 25% of diarrhoea samples may contain coronavirus. If dogs are infected, they risk becoming seriously ill, a risk which is compounded if they then contract another virus. As with other diseases, young pups are more susceptible than older animals.

Recent research aimed at improving diagnostic tests for coronavirus has increased our knowledge of the virus and this has led to a reassessment of its importance. While at present testing for coronavirus remains difficult, the potential threat posed to dogs is crystal clear.

When you’re planning your annual vaccination schedule, do ask your vet to vaccinate your pet against coronavirus. Prevention is always better than cure.