Coronavirus Symptoms

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Lethargic behavior is an early warning sign of coronavirus in cats.
Lethargic behavior is an early warning sign of coronavirus in cats. (Image: екатерина максименко/iStock/Getty Images)

Named for their spikes that give them a crown-like appearance, coronaviruses cause respiratory illness and digestive upset in pets ranging from mild to life-threatening. Most coronaviruses are species specific, so cats, dogs and humans don't usually catch one another's viruses. Your pet may have coronavirus without you knowing, as symptoms can be absent or cause isolated bouts of sickness. However, once your pet shows symptoms, the virus can turn serious or deadly quickly; consult your veterinarian instead of attempting to treat the disease yourself.

Signs of Danger

Symptoms of coronavirus infection in dogs, cats and humans include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, coughing and sneezing. Cats and humans usually run a fever with a coronavirus where dogs usually do not. The SARS coronavirus -- short for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome -- is transmissible between all three species as well as rodents and primates. Canine coronavirus can lead to death in puppies through dehydration or bloody diarrhea. Feline Infectious Peritonitis is especially aggressive with a high death rate. Immunizations are available from your veterinarian to help prevent the virus, but they generally are more effective for dogs than cats. Quick veterinary care is crucial to give your pet optimal chance of recovery.

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