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Canine coronavirus





  • Family: Coronaviridae.
  • Genus: Coronavirus.
  • Group 1 coronavirus: Type 1 canine coronavirus and Type II canine coronavirus.
  • Group 2 coronavirus: Canine respiratory coronavirus.


  • L: corona - crown: refers to the large club-shaped glycoprotein peplomers in the envelope of the virus.

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Clinical Effects



  • Can replicate in dogs without clinical signs.
  • Dogs can shed group 1 coronaviruses for weeks or months post-infection.
  • Canine respiratory coronavirus detected for up to 10 days post infection. 


  • Inapparent or persistent infections occur → virus maintenance.


Group 1 coronavirus

  • Fecal-oral.
  • Ingestion of virus contaminated material.
  • Highly contagious.

Canine respiratory coronavirus 

  • Highly contagious. 
  • Most likely spreads through aerosols. 
  • Feco-oral transmission remains to be determined. 

Pathological effects

Group 1 coronavirus

  • Re-infection common; pre-existing immunity does not give good protection.
  • Incubation period 1-4 days.
  • Infects cells of the duodenum and progresses through the small intestine.
  • Spreads to mesenteric lymph nodes, liver and spleen.
  • Present in the feces within 1-2 days of clinical disease.
  • Can act synergistically with other agents.
  • Certain strains can spread systemically and cause severe disease especially in puppies; isolated from lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys.

Canine respiratory coronavirus 

  • Earliest histopathological changes detected at 3 days post infection. 
  • Mostly upper respiratory tissues affected. 
  • Shortening, clumping and loss of tracheal cilia observed. 
  • Pathological changes in lungs less significant.


Control via chemotherapies

  • Group 1 coronavirus: treat dehydration and supply electrolytes. 
  • Canine respiratory coronavirus: usually self-limiting. Treat as for infectious tracheobronchitis Lung: bacterial pneumonia

Control via environment

  • Attention to hygiene.
  • Avoid poor management conditions, eg overcrowding or stress.
  • Isolate infected individuals.


  • Inactivated vaccines available in UK.
  • Inactivated and live attenuated vaccines available mainland Europe and USA (2 doses 3 weeks apart and annual boosters).
  • No vaccine for canine respiratory coronavirus available yet, but may be available soon. 


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Priestnall S L, Mitchell J A, Walker C A, Erles K, Brownlie J (2014) New and emerging pathogens in canine infectious respiratory disease. Vet Pathol 51 (2), 492-504 PubMed.
  • Erles K & Brownlie J (2008) Canine respiratory coronavirus: an emerging pathogen in the canine infectious respiratory disease complex. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 38 (4), 815-825, viii PubMed.
  • Buonavoglia C, Decaro N, Martella V et al (2006) Canine coronavirus highly pathogenic for dogs. Emerging Infectious Diseases 12 (3), 492-494 PubMed.
  • Erles K, Toomey C, Brooks H W et al (2003) Detection of a group 2 coronavirus in dogs with canine infectious respiratory disease. Virology 310 (2), 216-223 PubMed.
  • Tennant B J, Gaskell R M & Gaskell C J (1994) Studies on the survival of canine coronavirus under different environmental conditions. Vet Microbiol 42 (2-3), 255-259 PubMed.
  • Tennant B J, Gaskell R M, Jones R C et al (1993) Studies on the epizootiology of canine coronavirus. Vet Rec 132 (1), 7-11 PubMed.
  • McArdle F, Bennett M, Gaskell R M et al (1992) Induction and enhancement of feline infectious peritonitis by canine coronavirus. Am J Vet Res 53 (9), 1500-1506 PubMed.
  • Tennant B J, Gaskell R M, Jones R C et al (1991) Prevalence of antibodies to four major canine viral diseases in dogs in a Liverpool hospital population. JSAP 32 (4), 175-179 VetMedResource.

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