Canine coronavirus: Strengthen the immune system of puppies

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Canine coronavirus: How can you strengthen the immune system of puppies?

Canine coronavirus can infect all dogs, but puppies are the most susceptible population because their immune and digestive systems are both still immature. Canine coronavirus causes an acute, self-limiting infection that does not become chronic. The virus is eliminated in the faeces and the route of infection is therefore faecal–oral contact.

Veterinary medicine and care

What is canine coronavirus?

Infected puppies start to manifest clinical signs following an incubation period of 24–36 hours.  Canine coronavirus infects the cells of the intestine, causing intestinal inflammation.

The most common clinical signs caused by canine coronavirus

The most frequent signs are:

  • Temperature of over 40 °C
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Foul-smelling diarrhoea
  • Blood and mucus in stools

Can it be treated?

The treatment of canine coronavirus is symptomatic. Supportive measures are administered until the clinical signs resolve by themselves. As there is no treatment for the virus, preventive measures are particularly important.

Besides maintaining the dog’s objects in a hygienic condition and adhering to the vaccination schedule, the puppies’ immune systems can be reinforced through their diet.

Combating canine coronavirus through diet

We can help accelerate the development of the immune system in puppies with immunonutrients such as nucleotides, immunoglobulins and prebiotics that stimulate gut microbiota. 

  • There are five base nucleotides: guanine and adenine (purines), and thymine, cytosine and uracil (pyrimidines). These five molecules are the building blocks of DNA and RNA. They are essential for protein synthesis, so they play a vital role in cell replication as well as normal body and immune system function. Dietary nucleotide intake is very important, as is maintaining a specific ratio between purines and pyrimidines, since their de novo synthesis involves a very costly process in terms of energy.

Compared with human breast milk and that of other species, a female dog’s milk is must richer in free nucleotides (and with a high proportion of pyrimidines), which suggests that the healthy development of newborn puppies depends on the provision of dietary nucleotides, such as those in the Advance special diet for puppies.1 

Puppies fed on nucleotide-supplemented diets produce more antibodies after vaccinations and their lymphocytes are more responsive.

  • Immunoglobulins, sourced from plasma, hyperimmune egg yolk and bovine colostrum, can also be given as dietary supplements.

In the case of canine coronavirus, immunoglobulins act to prevent pathogens from combining with the intestinal mucosa by binding to them and therefore inactivating them. They also help maintain the integrity of the mucosa.

  • Prebiotics are natural fibres that ferment in the large intestine, stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, thus helping maintain the balance of gut microbiota.

A well-balanced gut microbiota contributes to a healthy intestinal mucosa and strong immune system.

Recently, following the outbreak of COVID-19, produced by the human coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, several questions have arisen with respect to the transmission of this novel virus to cats and/or dogs. Cats and dogs can be infected by other coronaviruses that usually produce clinical pictures similar to that of enteritis; however, there is no evidence that they can be infected with SARS-CoV-2. To date, there is no evidence that cats or dogs are a source of infection for humans or other animals or that they are involved in the transmission of SARS-Cov-2.2,3

Due to the rapid evolution of the pandemic, recommendations from Vets & Clinics by Advance are to check the official channels frequently.

References:
1. Jeusette I, Romano V, Salas A, et al. Research Report: INMUNONUTRICIÓN EN CACHORROS. Affinity Petcare, 08174 St. Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona (SPAIN)
2. World Organisation for Animal Health. Questions and Answers on COVID-19. Available at: https://www.oie.int/es/nuestra-experiencia-cientifica/informaciones-especificas-y-recomendaciones/preguntas-y-respuestas-del-nuevo-coronavirus-2019/
3. World Health Organization. Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19).
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