Intestinal Virus (Reovirus) Infection in Dogs

By PetMD Editorial on Nov. 18, 2008

Reovirus Infections in Dogs

A reovirus infection is caused by a group of viruses that contain double-stranded RNA (ribonucleic acid), and which have special characteristics with respect to their genetic material. This infection limits the absorption of nutrients from the intestines and results in diarrhea and dehydration.

Located within the dog's intestinal walls, they will destroy  of dogs and cats, destroying cells in the area they reside in. As a result there is limited absorption of nutrition from the intestines, further resulting in diarrhea and dehydration.

The virus is transmitted through contact with infected feces, or by inhalation of airborne virus particles. These viruses can suppress the immune system, causing the affected animal to develop various infections. The dog's outward conditions, meanwhile, will vary and depend on the type of reovirus.

Reovirus infections can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn how this intestinal virus affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

A dog with a reovirus infection will usually have mild symptoms such as diarrhea, irritation and inflammation of the nose, and cold-like symptoms (rhinitis). However, it may succumb to more serious complications, including conjunctivitis, pneumonia, infection of the brain tissue (encephalitis), and respiratory tract irritation.


Your veterinarian will conduct a full physical examination and complete blood profile on the dog, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. Diagnostic procedures will be aimed at differentiating a reoviral infection from other milder respiratory infections that are caused by bacteria.

Your doctor will also need to include a detailed study of the tissue characteristics, along with the viral structure, in order to confirm a diagnosis.


As it is generally not a life threatening condition, reovirus vaccines have not been developed, and medications are usually not prescribed for these infections. Treatment, instead, will focus on ensuring you dog remains hydrated, that its airways are clear, and that its nervous system is functioning properly.

If any of the dog's body systems are disordered, your veterinarian will prescribe medication to treat its specific ailment.

Living and Management

Follow your veterinarian's advice and avoid exposing any other healthy pets to your dog. Some reoviruses are contagious, even infect children and infants at times. Therefore, it probably best to isolate your dog until it has recovered.

Be aware that some respiratory symptoms may return during your pet's recovery period. If these complications should become serious, bring your dog back to the veterinarian immediately.

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