Coronavirus has been in the news a lot in the last couple of weeks, due to the outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus in China that has already infected over 7,000 people and killed over 170. This type of coronavirus is known as Wuhan coronavirus, and aside from how many people it has already infected and killed, what makes this type of coronavirus particularly newsworthy is the fact that this is the first time it has ever infected humans.
This makes it a new or novel form of coronavirus – and one that has recently crossed the species divide, to jump from its original host to people. As you might expect, there is a huge amount of research money and expertise being thrown at finding out as much about Wuhan coronavirus as possible, including where it came from; and both seafood and snakes have been cited as potential vectors, although even this isn’t know for sure.
All of this is naturally quite concerning, and is getting a lot of news coverage, although here in the UK we don’t appear to be in any significant danger as a whole. Something that many dog owners who keep hearing “coronavirus” on the news might be aware of is that dogs can catch coronavirus too; and so a lot of dog owners are wondering “can you catch coronavirus from your dog?” or, “can dogs give you Wuhan coronavirus?
Well, the simple answer is that you’re not at risk of catching coronavirus from your dog, and dogs can’t give you Wuhan coronavirus. In this article we’ll explain in more detail that not all coronaviruses are the same, look at the type of coronavirus dogs can catch, and share some other information that should help to put your mind at ease about dogs and Wuhan coronavirus. Read on to learn more.
Dogs can catch coronavirus – but coronavirus does not come in just one viral strain but many, and they’re not all the same! Dogs can only catch canine coronavirus, which is a specific strain of coronavirus – and it’s not even the same as the type of coronavirus that cats can get, even if they live together.
Dogs can catch canine coronavirus, and this is in fact generally a more or less harmless condition, which causes few or no symptoms in dogs that catch it; in fact, the chances are that you’d never even know if your dog had it.
However, some dogs, although this is very rare, will become acutely ill with canine coronavirus and the condition can occasionally be very serious and even fatal in immune-compromised dogs and young puppies.
No, dogs can’t catch Wuhan coronavirus. The only type of coronavirus dogs can catch is canine coronavirus. Even if they were exposed to Wuhan coronavirus, they would not catch it; and the chances of them being exposed to Wuhan coronavirus in the UK are vanishingly small!
As mentioned, Wuhan coronavirus crossed the species divide when it began to infect humans, and this is something that can happen very occasionally with viruses, and is very noteworthy when it does, partially as it is so uncommon.
This means that theoretically, Wuhan coronavirus could potentially at some point mutate and become zoonotic to dogs; but this is no more likely to happen than the species jump of any other viral condition you can think of, which is hugely anomalous and rare.
Dogs cannot catch Wuhan coronavirus, and unless that changes – which as mentioned above, there is no good reason to think it might – then dogs cannot and could not pass Wuhan coronavirus onto people, because they cannot catch and carry it themselves.
What about canine coronavirus, then? Can people catch canine coronavirus from their dogs? Well, no, the clue is in the name! Canine coronavirus only affects dogs; it cannot be caught by people, cats, or other animal species. Again, theoretically and with absolutely miniscule odds, canine coronavirus could at some point in the future mutate to jump the species divide to people, but this is so unlikely as to be barely worthy of mention other than in the abstract as a what-if!
Naturally, the news that Wuhan coronavirus itself crossed the species divide to people is making people ask questions like this more than normal, but it is important to remember (despite what contagion, apocalypse and zombie movies would have us believe) that this is hugely rare, and rarely results in a serious danger to infected members of the new species in the same way that Wuhan coronavirus does.
There is a standalone vaccine available for coronavirus in dogs, but it is not one that we give as standard to dogs, and it is not included in the regular package of canine vaccinations most dogs receive.
This is because coronavirus in dogs is very mild in all but a tiny minority of cases, and most dogs that develop it suffer no ill effects.
If you want to find out about canine coronavirus in more detail, check out our article on coronavirus in dogs too.