As we dive head first into the new year, fear of an unknown virus, Coronavius, fills social media and various media outlets. The discovery of this new pandemic causes worry and paranoia for many people in different parts of the world. One of the greatest questions during this time is how did this virus come to be? How did a human contract this virus in the first place? As a veterinarian, we can say this virus started from the consumption of snake as a meal. It originated in bats and then was transferred to snakes, being labelled as a cross-species virus. Many clients these days have become weary of whether they can contract this virus from their domestic, household pets. In this month’s issue, we wish to clear any common misunderstandings or questions our clients have presented us with recently.

Can Coronavirus occur in dogs and cats? Yes, Coronavirus can occur in both dogs and cats. Normally when a dog or cat is brought into your local veterinarian’s clinic, a set of basic vaccinations are given. These vaccinations are recommended towards common diseases or viruses that can occur in your pet. One of those selected vaccinations is against Coronavirus. Dogs can contract Coronavirus through oral contact with infected fecal matter. If your dog is experiencing Coronavirus, some signs you may see present are: decreased appetite, feeling tired quite often and sudden onset of diarrhea. The diarrhea may also contain blood or mucus at times. If you feel your dog is showing any of these signs, it is important to take him or her to your local veterinarian as soon as possible. Cats also can contract this virus in a similar manner of ingesting contaminated fecal matter, and the signs they may show in this case are: vomiting and diarrhea. It is also important to take your cat to the veterinarian if there is any suspicion of such signs.

Can my dog or cat give me Coronavirus, vice versa? The answer to this question is ‘no’. Coronavirus is a virus that has existed for a very long time and has taken multiple years to be able to mutate for it to do a cross-species jump. The Wuhan Coronavirus being dealt by the world today is very different from the Coronavirus that our pets experience in their lives. It is not possible, at a molecular level for our pets to transmit this virus into us, or for us to give it to them. If your pets do contract the virus, there is no specific treatment that can be given to them as a cure. Just as for now we know in humans, the best that one can do for even their pet is to build their immune system to naturally fight the virus. If you have any further questions or concerns in regards to the transmission of this specific virus, you can always ask your local veterinarian for reassurance on the matter. In cases of your pet facing diarrhea, withholding food may help to gradually decrease the level of discomfort and small portions of food may be introduced at a time when suggested by your veterinarian. Many animals may feel dehydrated after showing signs of vomiting or diarrhea, in which case IV fluids would be used first to stabilize their health status.

Dr. Hakam Bhullar (DVM)

Dr. Sifti Bhullar (DVM)