What Is Parvo in Dogs?
Canine parvovirus (CPV) disease -or parvo as it’s commonly called- is currently the most common infectious disorder of dogs in the US. This viral disease is highly contagious and can cause a fatal illness to your pet. No one quite knows its origin, but it’s thought to have come from cats. The belief is that the feline panleukopenia mutated into CPV. In order to protect your furry friend, there are a couple of things you should know about parvo.
Types of Parvo
The disease comes in two forms. There’s the intestinal form and the cardiac form. The intestinal one is the most common, and is characterized by vomiting and diarrhoea, weight loss and lack of appetite (anorexia). The cardiac form attacks the white blood cells and heart muscles of very young puppies and often leading to death. Most cases happen in pups that are between 6 weeks and 6 months old.
How does Parvo Spread?
It’s mainly gets around through direct dog-to-dog contact, and also through contact with contaminated stool, environments, or people. The parvo virus is a tough nut. It can survive in the environment for long time periods. It is highly resistant to cold, humidity, heat and drying. The virus can get from place to place on the dog’s feet or hair. Even trace amounts can lead to a full blown infection.
Signs of Parvo
The general symptoms of parvo include:
- severe vomiting
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- bloody, foul-smelling diarrhoea
The intestinal form of the virus reduces your pet’s ability to absorb nutrients, and the affected animal grows weak. The vomiting and diarrhoea lead to dehydration. The wet tissue around the mouth and eyes turns very red, and the heart rate increases.
Most death cases occur within 48 – 72 hours from the onset of the signs. If your pet begins showing any of the signs, rush to the vet immediately.
How is Parvo Treated?
The vet will diagnose the diseases through a rage of clinical signs and la testing. The most common is the Enzyme Linked ImmunoSorbant Assay (ELISA) test. It’s fast and can take 15 minutes. Since it’s not 100% effective, the vet may require more bloodwork and tests to be carried out-from physical examination and biochemical tests to urine analysis, abdominal radiographs and abdominal ultrasounds. You will be required to be thorough when giving the history of your pet’s health, any recent activities, and the onset of symptoms.
Treatment primarily consists of efforts to combat the dehydration, controlling vomiting and diarrhoea, and preventing secondary infections until the dog’s immune system is able to fight the virus. For instance, the vet will replace electrolyte and fluid losses through an intravenous administration. Subcutaneous or oral fluids can also be used. In severe cases, a blood transfusion may be necessary. Currently, there is no treatment for killing the parvo virus. If a puppy recovers from parvo, he is immune to reinfection for at least twenty months and possibly for life.
As always, prevention is the best cure. The best way to protect your pet is through vaccination and good hygiene practices. Make sure the pups get the shot, and that your older dogs stick to their parvo vaccination schedule.