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What is Canine Reovirus?

Before we start, it’s important to know that the canine Reovirus isn’t just one virus, but is actually a term for a number of different viruses/strains in the same family that can cause different health issues. Most often this viral family is associated with mild gastrointestinal disease and diarrhea. Though there are some more virulent strains of this virus that can cause significant damage to the intestines and with it severe diarrhea.  Other types of reoviruses cause upper and lower airway signs or even suppress the immune system so that other opportunistic infectious agents can cause our dogs trouble.

What causes Reovirus infection in dogs?

Well, as the name hints, a Reovirus infection is caused by a virus. Though what is more important for owners to know is this virus is easily spread because it is shed in feces and also through the air.  So, we definitely don’t want our dogs sniffing, licking or eating other dog’s stools. With its ability to cause infection when a dog inhales the virus particles, it is a virus that we see spread amongst dogs in kennels, boarding, and breeding facilities.

What symptoms would suggest that a dog might have Reovirus?

Since this virus tends to focus on the gut, we most often see dogs with diarrhea. Though if it is a strain that damages cells lining the intestine, diarrhea can become quite severe causing dehydration, lethargy, and even weight loss. With the other strains of Reovirus, we can also see conjunctivitis, nasal discharge, sore throat, pneumonia, and on rare occasions, the virus spreads to the brain causing encephalitis

How is canine Reovirus infection diagnosed?

In regards to diagnosis, a veterinarian can establish a clinical suspicion with a thorough examination and general blood profile. They may also need to rule out other diarrhea causing viruses when doing so. Otherwise, a definitive diagnosis can be a bit more invasive since that would require the veterinarian to take biopsies of the intestines for analysis and have a lab isolate the virus in these tissues.

If an owner suspects Reovirus infection, when would be the right time to consult an Expert or to take the dog to a Vet?

If an owner suspects their dog has contracted Reovirus, its best to be proactive. An Expert here on JustAnswer can help establish a supportive care plan to keep their dog hydrated and help slow diarrhea safely.  If the signs are mild, that may be all that is needed. Of course, if the dog’s signs are severe or linger despite supportive care, then they’d want to have a check-up with their local vet.

How is Reovirus treated? Are there any home remedies?

When it comes to treatment, this tends to be based on supportive care to help the immune system fight off the virus. If signs are mild, then the mainstay of home care will be to make sure that your dog continues to eat and drink to counter the dehydration and loss of nutrients in diarrhea.

How much can Reovirus treatment cost?

Costs tend to vary depending on which strain and how severe it is. If a dog has mild diarrhea for a few days or a runny eye, then supportive care at home may be all they need. Though if they have severe diarrhea, have breathing struggles, or one of those more severe signs; then they can sometimes need to be hospitalized for fluids, supportive care, and IV antibiotics. Severe cases could cost a few hundred dollars to help them fight off the virus. This is why pet insurance is so important. Owners will have a fallback plan if their dog is unlucky enough to contract a virulent strain of Reovirus or is severely unwell with the virus.

Anything to note about a dog’s recovery from Reovirus?

Recovery is usually quite straightforward for most cases. If a dog has other health issues, is elderly or has a weak immune system, then recovery can be a slow process requiring additional supportive care from their veterinarian. Still, most dogs will overcome this virus in a week or two with proper supportive care.

Is there anything else dog owners need to know about Reovirus?

Remember this is a very contagious virus, so if you think your dog has Reovirus, you want to keep it isolated from other dogs and public spaces (i.e., parks, urban streets, etc.). They can still be allowed in your back yard, but not where other dogs could be exposed and catch this virus. Once they have made a full recovery, then they can be allowed to return to the parks or be allowed public walks again.

Since there are rare reports of immune suppressed people contracting this virus from dogs, it is recommended to keep dogs that have been diagnosed with Reovirus away from babies, the elderly, and people on immunosuppressive drugs or with immune suppressing infections. That way we can be safe and avoid any additional risks for anyone in the household.

 

About the Author

Dr B, Veterinary Expert on JustAnswer

Dr. B has been an Expert on JustAnswer since June 2011, with over 12,162 satisfied customers.

Dr. B has a Bachelors in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery from the University of Glasgow; a Bachelor’s of Science in Animal Science and Aquaculture from the University of Davis, California; and a graduate certificate in Veterinary Forensic Science. She has been a veterinary surgeon for over eight years, and has practiced all over the country with a wide range of species (cats, dogs, fish, birds, cows and sheep). She has also been involved in a number of veterinary research projects helping further veterinary infectious disease knowledge.

Dr. B is a longtime member of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Currently she is dividing her time between clinical practice and running the diagnostic laboratory for a UK veterinary school. This allows her to take care of her own patients while also assisting other veterinary surgeons throughout the country with their patients. In her spare time, she is a keen photographer, an amateur artist, and enjoys walking adventures with her St. Bernard

 

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