Canine Parvo-Virus is an extremely contagious viral disease that can affect all dogs. However, the most at risk are un-vaccinated dogs, as well as puppies that are below 6 months old.
This virus usually manifests itself in two forms – intestinal form and cardiac form. The intestinal form attacks the gastrointestinal tracts of dogs, affecting the ability of their body to absorb nutrients. As a result, the affected animal becomes dehydrated and weak very quickly due to lack of fluid and protein absorption. The cardiac form, on the other hand, attacks and damages the heart muscles of young puppies (below six months), causing lifelong cardiac problems that often leads to death.
By vaccinating your puppies and dogs early, you can help to significantly lower the incidences of Parvo-Virus infections. Find out more about this common, but deadly dog disease below:
The most common signs of this virus infection in dogs include loss of appetite, weight loss, severe and often bloody and smelly diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, abdominal pain, bloating, and low body temperature or fever.
Note that most dog deaths from this virus occur within 48-72 hours after the beginning of the symptoms. Therefore, it is very important that you contact a veterinarian immediately if your dog or puppy shows any of the above symptoms.
As already mentioned, Parvo-Virus is highly contagious and can be transmitted through direct dog to dog contact, as well as via contact with contaminated stool, people (clothes and hands of people who handle infected dogs), as well as environments (kernel surfaces, food bowls, leashes, collars, carpet, floors etc.). This virus is also highly resistant to cold, heat, drying and humidity, and can survive in most environments for a very long time.
Veterinarians diagnose the infection based on physical examination, clinical signs, laboratory tests and the dog’s history. In addition, fecal testing can be used to confirm if your dog has the disease or not.
Currently, there is no drug that can kill this virus in infected dogs. Therefore, treatment is usually meant to support and boost a dog’s immune system to enable it fight off the infection. Infected dogs need intensive care treatment immediately in a veterinary hospital. Treating the virus often consists of efforts to control diarrhea and vomiting, combat dehydration and prevent secondary infections. With early diagnosis and aggressive treatment, survival rates can be up to 90%. However, even with the best care, this infection is not always successful. Prevention Young puppies are particularly very susceptible to Parvo-Virus, but you can protect them from getting infected by ensuring that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. If you are not sure, talk to your veterinarian and ask him to recommend a prevention program for your pet. Until your puppy receives its complete series of vaccinations, you should proceed with caution when taking him or her to doggy daycare, puppy classes, pet shops, parks, grooming establishments and other places where puppies congregate. Regardless of the number of vaccination doses they have received earlier, puppies between the age of 14 and 16 weeks should receive a dose of Parvo-Virus vaccine to help them develop sufficient protection. In addition, since this virus is very contagious, isolating infected dogs can significantly help to minimize its spread. Also, ensure that contaminated kennels and other places where the dog goes are properly cleaned and disinfected. Similarly, dogs that are not vaccinated should not be exposed to infected ones, or those with unknown or questionable vaccination histories. Also, people who handle exposed or sick dogs should avoid handling the non-infected ones. Finally, never let your dog or puppy come into contact with other dogs’ fecal waste while playing or walking outdoors. To limit the spread of the infection, make sure you dispose your dog’s waste materials properly and promptly.