Rotavirus: A Cause of Diarrhea in Puppies
Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.
Race Foster, DVM

Although not frequently encountered by the authors, canine rotavirus can be an important cause of diarrhea, especially in puppies less than twelve weeks of age. It is not common in puppies older than twelve weeks. Rotavirus is spread through feces of infected puppies.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptom is diarrhea. Almost all puppies will be under twelve weeks of age and most will be two weeks of age and less. Most cases of diarrhea are relatively mild.

What are the risks?

Most authorities do not consider canine rotavirus to be of major concern. This is because it is not commonly encountered and fatalities in normal puppies are rare. It should, however, be a consideration when puppies are encountered with diarrhea, especially if around two weeks of age.

What is the management?

As with other viruses there is no specific treatment. Adequate fluid intake is required to prevent dehydration. At the time of this writing, there is not a vaccine available against canine rotavirus.

Although not proven to be significant, human rotavirus has been isolated from dogs with diarrhea. Unlike Parvovirus and Coronavirus, it is possible that canine rotavirus may similarly be transferable to humans, especially infants. Research into canine rotavirus is ongoing and more information will be available in the future.

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