From past work on articles about canine vaccination protocols, I was familiar with the word «coronavirus» when the stories about coronavirus disease 2019—better known today as COVID-19—began to break.

When it comes to dogs, the phrase «coronavirus disease» has long been used to refer to a highly infectious intestinal disease that mostly affects puppies who are less than six weeks of age. The viral infection can cause abdominal discomfort and diarrhea for a few days, but is usually mild. The disease is most common in puppies who have been raised in crowded and unsanitary conditions—puppies who are also at higher risk of becoming infected with parvovirus. If a pup contracts both viruses at the same time, he may not recover.

There is a vaccination that can protect pups from a coronavirus infection, but it’s rarely administered. Neither the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA, the organization whose vaccination protocol guidelines are followed by most veterinarians) nor the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommend the coronavirus vaccination for most dogs or puppies.

The type of coronavirus that typically infects dogs is not zoonotic; it doesn’t affect humans in any way.

Coronavirus» is a sort of generic term for any one of a number of viruses that are named for the crown-like spikes on the surface of the virus when viewed by powerful microscopes. Some coronaviruses affect only animals and some affect humans. The types that affect humans tend to cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory infections—what most of us would consider an ordinary «cold.» However, in vulnerable or particularly susceptible individuals, the viruses can also cause bronchitis and pneumonia.

There has been a certain amount of comparing COVID-19 to «severe acute respiratory syndrome,» better known as SARS. COVID-19 and SARS are actually both coronaviruses (as is Middle East respiratory syndrome, better known as MERS). So far, SARS and MERS both seem to be less infectious than COVID-19, but they both seem to cause a higher rate of fatalities than COVID-19 infections.

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