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Care Guide

About Care Guides[x] These care guides are written to help your clients understand common conditions, tests, and procedures, as well as to provide basic information about pet care. They are based on the most up-to-date, documented information, recommendations, and guidelines available in the United States at the time of writing. Pharmaceutical product licensing, availability, and usage recommendations are based on US product information. Use the Download Handout button to generate a PDF for printing or e-mailing to your clients.

Canine Coronavirus Infection

    • Canine coronavirus infection is a highly contagious disease.
    • In dogs, the virus typically attacks the intestinal tract; clinical signs include diarrhea and vomiting.
    • The disease is typically mild and self-limiting (resolving without treatment).
    • A vaccine is available.

    What Is Canine Coronavirus?

    Coronavirus infection is a highly contagious infection of puppies and older dogs that primarily attacks the intestinal tract. The disease is spread from dog to dog through contact with feces. After coronavirus has been transmitted to a dog, the incubation (development) period of the disease can be as short as 1 to 4 days.

    Signs of Coronavirus Infection

    Coronavirus infections are typically mild and self-limiting (resolving without treatment), and infected dogs may have several days of diarrhea that resolves without treatment. Other signs may include:

    • Depression
    • Fever
    • Loss of appetite
    • Vomiting

    Diagnosis and Treatment

    Coronavirus infection is typically diagnosed based on clinical signs, although definitive laboratory testing is available. Because the clinical signs can be similar to those of more serious diseases (such as parvovirus infection), your veterinarian may recommend testing to rule out other illnesses.

    Because coronavirus infection is caused by a virus, there is no cure. Treatment is typically limited to supportive care, such as fluid therapy, rest, and antibiotics to prevent secondary infections. If vomiting or diarrhea is severe, medications may be prescribed to manage the problem.


    Coronavirus is spread through contact with fecal material from infected dogs, so separating sick dogs from healthy ones can help reduce disease spread. Coronavirus can be killed by many types of household disinfectants (including diluted bleach solution), so cleaning contaminated areas and bedding can also help reduce disease spread.

    A vaccine is available to prevent canine coronavirus infection. The coronavirus vaccine is not required for all dogs, but it may sometimes be included in combination vaccines for other, more serious diseases, such as infections with canine distemper virus, canine parvovirus, and canine adenovirus type 2.

    Reviewed December 2011