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The coronavirus family includes virus species that infect many animals. However, each species of virus is fairly host specific, so a species that infects dogs will not infect cats and vice versa. In dogs that show symptoms, canine coronavirus (CCV) infection usually causes mild intestinal upset. In symptomatic cats, feline coronavirus (FCoV) usually causes either mild upper respiratory or intestinal disease. In rare cases, however, FCoV can cause feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), a fatal pet disease.

How Coronavirus Affects Your Pet

Both CCV and FCoV are shed in the feces and saliva of infected pets for up to six months after infection. Animals contract the virus through exposure to surfaces contaminated with infected feces or saliva or through direct contact with infected animals. Young animals and those with immune systems compromised due to stress or systemic disease are more vulnerable to infection than healthy adult pets. Most animals will have no serious symptoms, and many infected pets will show no symptoms at all. In approximately 5 to 10 percent of cats infected with FCoV, the virus develops into FIP. FIP has two forms. The first affects the body cavities and is known as the wet form or the effusive form. The dry form of FIP, also called the non-effusive form, targets the pet's organs. Dry FIP tends to progress more slowly than wet FIP, but both forms are ultimately fatal. Cats can develop FIP weeks, months or years after initial FCoV infection, and FIP is more common in cats living in catteries and multi-cat households than in other pets. Cats infected with feline leukemia virus, kittens and pets with compromised immune systems have an increased risk of developing this serious disease.

Common Symptoms of Coronavirus

Symptoms of Coronavirus infection are usually mild and include the following: Diarrhea, Vomiting, Sneezing, Watery eyes and Loss of Appetite. Some possible symptoms of effusive FIP in cats include the following: Fever, Loss of appetite, Weight loss, Diarrhea, Difficulty breathing, Swollen belly, Sneezing and Lethargy. The following are symptoms of non-effusive FIP: Pale gums and tongue, Yellowing of the gums, tongue and whites of the eyes, Poor growth, Fever, Diarrhea, Lethargy, Eye Inflammation, Poor Coordination, Vision Problems and Poor Coat.

Treatments for Coronavirus

When required, treatment for this pet health condition is supportive. Puppies and kittens with vomiting and diarrhea should be carefully monitored since they can rapidly develop life-threatening dehydration. In such cases, fluid therapy is indicated for the pet. For cats with the non-effusive form of FIP, treatment is aimed at prolonging comfortable life. It consists of anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressive medications and other medications aimed at slowing the progress of the disease. If fluid accumulates in the body cavities, the veterinarian may drain it to make the animal more comfortable. In cases of effusive FIP, the disease usually spreads too rapidly for treatment to have any effect. Cats with FIP usually die from complications of the disease or are euthanized when treatment can no longer control FIP symptoms.

Breeds Affected

Dogs and cats of all breeds are subject to coronavirus infection.

Pet Insurance

When adding a dog or cat to your family you want to make sure your pet is happy, healthy and protected. During its lifetime your pet is exposed to many illnesses and diseases and some breeds are affected by a congenital disease which is a condition existing at birth. At these moments when your pet is ill or maybe needs surgery, you want to be protected for the unexpected and high veterinarian costs.

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