Covid-19 and Heart Disease in Dogs: Covid Alpha Variant Linked to Heart Problems in Dogs?

Are dogs susceptible to the Covid-19 infection?

So far, information about how Covid-19 may or may not affect our dogs has been scarce. The following quote is from the Worms and Germs blog which focuses on infectious diseases in animals.

Are dogs susceptible to the SARS-CoV-2 virus? Yes, but… not very… maybe. It depends on what you mean by “susceptible.” Nice and clear, eh?

University of Guelph Centre for Public Health & Zoonoses

The article makes the distinction between dogs getting the virus in their bodies as opposed to getting sick from it. However, a new study reports cases of dogs infected by the UK variant of SARS-CoV-2. Further, these dogs developed signs of heart disease, including myocarditis.

Further reading: COVID Variant Tied to Heart Inflammation in Cats, Dogs

Covid-19 and Heart Disease in Dogs: Covid Alpha Variant Linked to Heart Problems in Dogs?

What is myocarditis

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle. Most commonly, myocarditis is infectious in nature. Any infection can make its way from other tissues into the heart muscle—bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa—resulting in inflammation. The inflammation can affect the entire myocardium or a part of it.

What does myocarditis in dogs look like?

Symptoms of myocarditis in dogs can include:

  • exercise intolerance
  • coughing
  • difficulty breathing
  • fever
  • weakness
  • collapse

Myocarditis symptoms can get muddied by those of the original infection.

Severe myocarditis can lead to congestive heart failure or severe arrhythmias which require intensive care.

Further information: Heart Inflammation (Myocarditis) in Dogs

Covid-19 and myocarditis in dogs

The dogs tested in the aforementioned study presented with an acute onset of heart disease, including myocarditis. These dogs tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies. Many of their owners had symptoms and tested positive several weeks prior.

The study results raise the caution that dogs can become infected and suffer health consequences.

Our study reports the first cases of cats and dogs affected by the COVID-19 alpha variant and highlights, more than ever, the risk that companion animals can become infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Luca Ferasin, DVM, PhD, of The Ralph Veterinary Referral Centre, UK

The infection led to severe heart abnormalities, similar to Covid-19 complications in humans. However, this was the first time the problem was identified in dogs.

In closing

Fortunately, it appears this issue remains rare. Or is it sneaking under the radar?

Further, is it possible that dogs with other symptoms slipped under the radar as well as they never ended up in a veterinary clinic? Subsequent testing in other European countries also returned positive PCR results.

At this point, though, there is still no evidence that dogs can infected their humans. The infections seem to move only in one direction—humans to dogs.

Source article:
SARS-CoV-2 Variant Detected in Dogs and Cats with Suspected Myocarditis

Related articles:
COVID-19 and My Dog: Can My Dog Get It and Could They Infect Me?

Further reading:
COVID Variant Tied to Heart Inflammation in Cats, Dogs
Update: COVID-19 in Animals Review

Categories: CoronavirusCOVID-19Dog health advocacyInfectionsmyocarditis

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

9 Comments
  1. A friend of the family has COVID (but thankfully he’s vaccinated and his symptoms are mild.) He has two dogs, I will let him know about this, but hopefully his dogs stay healthy.

  2. This virus will be around for a while, so we will have time to monitor how it affects dogs (and cats). The more we know the better and the more informed our views will be. This will avoid ignorant opinions being spread by misinformed fearmongers who do not have research on their side.

    Just so long as they don’t start giving them that ridiculous horse medicine without veterinary guidance.

  3. I think this will be very interesting to follow, especially as COVID persists. Perhaps it is going undetected under the radar. I doubt this is the end to this story. I’m hoping there is not much more to the story. Thanks for this interesting update on Covid and dogs. I hope you continue to follow it’s development.

    • Based on the information so far, it seems that this new Omicron variant will be an pandemic-ending event. So that would be great.

  4. Yes, I heard the same issue from a fellow friend and dog mom. Dogs can get COVID. According to my friend, she knew of such instances of SARS in dogs BEFORE the pandemic. I find it interesting that one of the same side effects of COVID in dogs and in humans is potential myocarditis. If humans cannot transmit to animals I wonder how it’s transmitted? Is it from animal to animal? or touching an object with germs/bacteria? Inhaled ? Bad food? Either way, wishing nothing but good health for us all with both two or four legs!

  5. Very interesting. We’ve been lucky in that we live in a very rural area and haven’t had too much trouble avoiding Covid ourselves. I have worried about what I’d do if I catch it, I’d hate to expose my animals. Something for pet owners to consider for sure.

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