The dangers of canine parvovirus
What is of Canine Parvovirus?
Canine parvovirus is an extremely serious and highly contagious disease that attacks the lining of a dog’s digestive system, or the heart muscles of dogs who are younger than eight weeks. Since a young puppy’s immune system isn’t mature enough to fight of infections, they are especially prone to getting the virus.
Canine parvovirus is perhaps the most common of all viral illnesses that dogs can contract, and it’s recommended that all puppies begin receiving their vaccinations when they are as young as six weeks old.
A study has found that a few types of dogs seem to be more susceptible to contracting the canine parvovirus than others, including black and tan breeds such as Doberman Pinschers, and Rottweilers. But it’s important to remember that all breeds of dogs may be at risk if they are not properly immunized.
The virus is spread from one dog to another by direct transmission through contact with infected stools. Since the virus can handle extreme temperature changes, it may also live in the environment for as long as six months after it is found in the stool.
Symptoms of the canine parvovirus vary depending on whether or not it is the cardiac or the intestinal form of the virus. The clinical signs of the virus include a loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, depression, lethargy, and foul smelling diarrhea that is often bloody. Dehydration is quick, and in severe cases or if the dog goes without treatment, it will cause them to go into shock, and then eventually death.
The signs and symptoms of the cardiac form of the virus in puppies less than 8 weeks old are:
The intestinal form is more severe in puppies, but can affect dogs of any age and the symptoms include:
Unfortunately, no cure for canine parvovirus is available and the survival rate after being infected is generally 50%. Immediate medical care is imperative during the first few days to have any chance of recovery. Most dogs will need to be hospitalized anywhere from two to four days, or in some cases, as long as a week or more.
The purpose of treatment is basically to avoid a secondary infection from occurring and to treat symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. Fluid therapy is important to prevent dehydration, and laboratory tests will be needed to see if your dog’s white blood cell count is within the normal range.
If death occurs due to the virus it is either because of dehydration, a secondary bacterial infection, hemorrhaging, or heart attack.
How to Prevent Canine Parvovirus
The absolute best way to protect your dog from canine parvovirus is to have them vaccinated when they are 6 to 8 weeks old. When puppies are vaccinated they are given a combination shot that also protects against distemper and other diseases.
After your puppy has been vaccinated, keep it away from any areas where other dogs may have been such as parks or pet stores, and only allow them around dogs that you know are up to date on their own vaccines.
If your pet has already become infected with the virus, it’s important to take the following precautions to prevent the disease from spreading to other dogs.
Since the organism that causes the virus is so resistant and easily spread, a full set of immunizations are the only way to ensure your dog won’t become infected. Remember that parvo can live for as long as six months in your backyard or home, so be sure to keep your pet’s quarters as clean as possible and disinfected. Never allow any other dogs who haven’t been properly immunized to come in contact with a dog recovering from canine parvovirus.