Canine rotavirus | Contagion, symptoms and treatment

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Canine rotavirus is a little popular virus, since it does not usually produce symptoms in adult dogs and in puppies it causes mild diarrhea that usually resolves without complications in a few days.

However, it is important to know this disease, since it can become serious if it affects weakened animals or with a weak immune system or if it is combined with other digestive diseases such as parvovirus, which can be fatal. Let’s see what are the symptoms of canine rotavirus, how is it transmitted and what is its treatment.

Index of contents

  • 1 What is canine rotavirus?
  • 2 How is rotavirus transmitted?
  • 3 What symptoms does rotavirus produce in dogs?
  • 4 How is rotavirus diagnosed?
  • 5 Canine rotavirus treatment
    • 5.1 Disease prognosis
  • 6 Is there a vaccine against canine rotavirus?
  • 7 Canine rotavirus spread to people?

What is canine rotavirus?

Canine rotavirus is a type of virus in the family Reoviridae that affects the intestine of dogs. It infects intestinal villi by interfering with the absorption capacity of food.

There are different strains of rotavirus that cause diarrheal diseases in different animal species and in man, mainly affecting children. Although rotavirus strains are species-specific, these viruses can mutate easily and jump from one species to another quite frequently.

For this reason, it is frequent that this disease occurs in underdeveloped countries where people live near livestock in poor hygienic conditions. Canine rotavirus in particular does not generally affect humans, but could get to be transmitted.

How is rotavirus transmitted?

Rotavirus is generally transmitted through contact with fecal matter from infected animals (gold-fecal route). Dogs with immune systems that are still immature (puppies), with low defenses, and those that live in overly stressful environments are at increased risk of infection.

What symptoms does rotavirus produce in dogs?

Rotavirus can affect dogs of any age; does not usually produce symptoms in healthy adult dogs, but in puppies younger than 12 weeks or dogs with low defenses, usually causes watery diarrhea.

Its effect on the dog is generally mild and it is not usually a serious pathology in the puppy unless it is weakened or this infection is combined with another disease, such as canine parvovirus or canine coronavirus.

Initially, it is difficult to distinguish a coronavirus or parvovirus rotavirus infection by symptoms, since all three viruses cause a similar picture in the puppy:

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Mucus in stool
  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Poor appetite

However, parvovirus causes a more serious disease than the other two infections and has a high mortality in puppies, therefore, if we observe digestive symptoms in our dog we must go to the vet to rule out or confirm the parvovirus and be able to start treatment in a positive case.

How is rotavirus diagnosed?

To make a diagnosis of intestinal viral infection it is necessary to take a stool sample. Normally, the vet rules out that it is a serious infection from other causes such as parvovirosis and a specific diagnosis of rotavirus is not usually made, since the treatment will be symptomatic and there is no specific medication.

Canine rotavirus treatment

There is no specific medication against this virus, so treatment focuses on relieving symptoms; Especially dehydration of the dog should be avoided by helping to replace the lost fluids and electrolytes with oral serums (Pedialyte) or, if the puppy cannot drink alone or the symptoms are severe, administering fluids intravenously. This is rare with rotavirus and suggests that the virus combines with another infection..

Temporary dietary measures are also established (bland diet easily digestible) to contribute to the recovery of the digestive system.

Antibiotics are generally not prescribed, as they are only useful for bacterial, not viral, infections. But in cases of animals with a weakened immune system they may be necessary to avoid secondary bacterial infections.

Disease prognosis

In healthy adult dogs, rotavirus infection is usually asymptomatic, and in puppies it generally causes mild to moderate watery diarrhea that resolves within 8-10 days and this infection is rarely fatal.

Commonly, rotavirus by itself is not a serious disease, however, its importance lies in the fact that rotavirus infection is usually secondary to another disease (parvovirosis), complicating the disease picture.

Is there a vaccine against canine rotavirus?

Currently there is no vaccine against rotavirus in dogs, but there is a vaccine against parvovirus and coronavirus, and since the clinical importance of rotavirus is that its infection is usually secondary to another disease, we must vaccinate our dog against parvovirus and coronavirus to avoid serious symptoms in case of rotavirus infection.

Canine rotavirus spread to people?

There are eight different types of rotavirus that are classified from A-H. Rotaviruses that affect dogs belong to Group A, and this group is also the group that most commonly affects humans, although groups B and C are known to cause outbreaks. Each group is further divided into serotypes or strains. G3 and P3 serotypes are the most frequently found in dogs.. These serotypes can affect humans, but this is rare.

Although generally the canine rotavirus does not affect people, we must take precautions in case our dog is infected:

  • Avoid contact of the dog with young children, particularly babies.
  • Wear latex gloves when cleaning or collecting fecal matter from an infected animal and wash your hands afterward.
  • Disinfect the life area of ​​the animal.