What is Parvovirus?
Canine Parvovirus (CPV) or the common name ‘Parvo’ is highly contagious and resistant virus that manifests itself in two different forms. An intestinal form which attacks the gastrointestinal system and a cardiac form which attacks the heart muscles.
CPV is one of the most dangerous infections dogs are exposed to, the main source of the virus is the faeces of infected dogs. Dogs become infected either by direct contact with an infected dog, or indirectly, by the faecal-oral route. Heavy concentrations of the virus are found in an infected dog’s stool, so when a healthy dog sniffs an infected dog’s stool or even sniffs their bottom, that dog can contract the disease. The virus can also be brought into a dog’s environment by way of shoes that have come into contact with infected faeces. This means that even if your dog never goes to the park or mixes with other dogs, it can be exposed to virus in the environment.
The virus can remain in the environment for up to a year after an infected dog has been there. It is resistant to most cleaning products, or even to weather changes.
Symptoms of Canine Parvovirus
Dogs that become infected with the virus and show clinical signs will usually become ill within 7-10 days of the initial infection.
It is important to note that many dogs may NOT show every clinical sign. Parvovirus may affect dogs of all ages, but is most common in dogs less than one year of age. Young puppies are often the most severely affected and the most difficult to treat.
The major symptoms associated with the intestinal form of a canine parvovirus infection include:
- Severe, bloody diarrhea
- Severe weight loss
- Low body temperature
The intestinal form of CPV affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, and an affected animal will quickly become dehydrated and weak from lack of protein and fluid absorption.
Diagnosis for Canine Parvovirus
CPV is diagnosed with a physical examination, biochemical tests, and a special test for the parvovirus in faeces. A urine analysis, abdominal radiographs and abdominal ultrasounds may also be performed.
Treatment for Canine Parvovirus
Most dogs with CPV infection recover if aggressive treatment is used and if therapy has begun before severe septicaemia and dehydration occur.
Parvovirus treatment is focused on curing the symptoms and preventing secondary bacterial infections, preferably in a hospital environment.
Intensive therapy and systemic support are the keys to recovery. Intravenous fluid and nutrition therapy are crucial in maintaining a dog’s normal body fluid.
The survival rate can vary due to age, general health of the patient and how quickly the diagnosis is confirmed. Unfortunately, the prognosis is lower for puppies – It is common for a puppy who is infected with CPV to suffer shock and sudden death.
The best method of protecting your dog against the Canine Parvovirus is by vaccinating!
After the initial series of puppy vaccinations, ALL ADULT DOGS require boosters every one to three years depending on your dog’s vaccination regime.
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