Coronavirus! What you need to know as a dog guardian!
What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are positive-stranded, spherical, enveloped, non-segmented RNA viruses. It has a diameter of 125nm. In the human body, it binds to the ACE2 receptor present on the alveoli of the lungs. Upon infection/entry, it hijacks the human cell machinery to make a complete virus particle, killing the host cell in the process.
The name Coronavirus is derived from the crown-like spikes which are present on the surface of the virus (in Latin, corona translates to ‘crown’).
The novel Coronavirus has 2 names:
Other Coronaviruses which have been faced by the human race are SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) Coronavirus (outbreak observed in 2003) and MERS (Middle eastern respiratory syndrome) Coronavirus (outbreak observed in 2013-14).
The 2019 novel Coronavirus, is believed to have originated in bats and has been transmitted to humans via an intermediate host animal.
The incubation period (the time duration needed by the virus to grow in the body during which no signs or symptoms of the disease are observed ) of this virus is 4 to 14 days in humans.
The most common symptoms of this disease (in humans) are
- dry cough
- muscle ache
The less common symptoms (in humans) are
- Coughing up blood
The disease usually transmits via direct contact with an infected person (via droplets containing virus particles)
Let’s come to the main question:
Can dogs be affected by Coronavirus?
Currently, according to the WHO’s Myth Buster page, there is no scientific evidence implicating that dogs or cats can get affected by the Coronavirus.
The dog tested positive for the virus after living with his guardians who were infected by the said virus. As per a report from the World Organization of Animal Health, the dog in question did not show signs or symptoms of being infected by the Coronavirus. There is currently no scientific support indicating that dogs can get affected by the Coronavirus or that they can act as vectors (transmitting agents) for the disease.
What should I as a dog guardian do?
Maintain regular hygiene as you normally would.
In case a person is affected or is suspecting himself or herself to be affected, it is advisable to hand over the care of their dog to an uninfected person just like they would if they have any disease.
In case the infected person must care for their dog, it is recommended to wear a face mask and wash their hands before and after coming in contact with their dogs.
If your dog usually stays at home, does not come in contact with other dogs and no one at your home is infected by Coronavirus, you don’t have anything to worry about. The chances of your dog getting infected are very unlikely.
What to do if one suspects their dog of being infected by the Coronavirus?
Currently, public services and Veterinary health are working together using a one health approach to share all information and conduct a risk assessment if a COVID-19 infected person is reported to be in contact with dogs.
If a decision is taken to conduct a risk assessment test, a real-time reverse transcriptase- polymerase chain reaction (RRT-PCR/qRT-PCR) test is conducted on oral, nasal as well as fecal samples of dogs suspected of being infected with the virus.
What is the RRT-PCR/qRT-PCR test?
Just like we humans have DNA which possesses our genetic code, similarly Coronaviruses have RNA which contains their genetic code. Viruses replicate in the human body by converting their RNA into DNA by the use of an enzyme (protein which speeds up a chemical reaction) called reverse transcriptase. Depending on the virus, the newly made DNA may get integrated into the human genome. The novel Coronavirus does not convert its RNA into DNA and initiates protein synthesis upon entry into the host cell to form new virus particles.
In the qRT-PCR test, reverse transcriptase is used to convert the viral DNA which may be present in the blood to DNA and is then quantified for the purpose of identification.
Is any vaccination available which can protect my dog from getting infected by Coronavirus?
Unfortunately, at the moment there is no vaccine available for dogs which can provide immunity against Coronavirus. As per the estimation of the WHO, a vaccine for humans against Coronavirus may be available by 12 to 18 months.
Should I make my dog wear a face mask when I take him/her out in public?
The masks which are available for dogs in the market will not protect your dog from getting infected by diseases which are transmitted via bodily fluids. What you can do instead is make sure that your pup’s vaccination is up to date, especially the vaccines against respiratory diseases like canine influenza, Bordetella and parainfluenza.
What to do if I am ill (suspected or suffering from Coronavirus) and my dog needs immediate vet care?
Even though dogs have not been identified as vectors or being vulnerable to the disease, it is still better to maintain precautions as much as possible. In the case of the unfortunate scenario, where you might be infected and your pup is in need of emergency care, contact the emergency pet health services and explain your situation to them. They may be able to provide you with some support by taking your dog from the car and into the hospital without you needing to go in. Following this, they may discuss the symptoms, diagnosis as well as the treatment plan of your dog over the phone.
Alternatively, they might discuss the entire situation on the phone first before taking the decision of whether your dog needs to be admitted or not. In case any over the counter medication is advised or if you have the mediation lying around from any previous suffering, you may not have to take your dog to the hospital at all.
Now that you know what you should do and how to keep your pup protected, make sure you follow all instructions to the teeth and keep your pup’s vaccination up to date.
What are you doing to keep the COVID-19 at bay? Let me know in the comment section below. If you have any specific questions make sure to put them down too. I will do my best to answer on the basis of available scientific research.
Furthermore, if you are concerned with your dogs not getting the proper amount of exercise due to the quarantine, you can check out the next post which will focus on making an indoor dog activity area.
You can check out the following video which describes how to set up the activity area and get your dog tired.
Finally maintain proper hygiene and stay safe.
PS: If you like the article, please share it with your friends so that more dog guardians are aware of what they need to do in this difficult time and situation. Also, don’t forget to leave a comment!