Canine Parvovirus in dogs is a highly contagious virus that affects dogs with parvovirus (CPV) infection. The virus manifests in two different forms.
The intestinal form of parvo is very common in dogs, which include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and loss of appetite (anorexia).
Canine Parvovirus cases are most commonly seen in puppies aged 6 weeks to 6 months. The incidence of parvo infections is drastically reduced by appropriate vaccination and raising in puppies.
Here is what you must know about Parvo in dogs.
Symptoms of parvo in dogs
The main symptoms associated with the intestinal form of parvo infection are:
- Severe, bloody diarrhea
- Fever or hypothermia (low body temperature)
- Severe weight loss
The intestinal form of Canine parvovirus affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. A dog with a parvo dehydrates quickly and is weakened by a lack of nutrients and fluid absorption.
Vomiting and diarrhea often have blood that can be taken to a veterinarian for dogs with parvovirus. The wet tissue of the mouth and eyes may turn red and the heart beats very fast.
When your veterinarian examines your dog’s abdominal area, your dog may respond to pain or discomfort. Dogs infected with CPV may have lower body temperature (hypothermia) than fever.
How can we recognize if our dog has parvovirus?
The symptoms of parvovirus affected dogs are blood-foul-smelling diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, collapse, depression, fever, and sudden death.
Who’s in danger?
Young puppies and unwanted dogs, including those without their booster injections, are at risk of becoming parvo victims.
Puppies go downhill very quickly because the symptoms of Canine parvovirus make them very weak, and their immune systems have to struggle to fight the disease. Young people between the ages of six and six months may also be infected with secondary infections, or they may die of dehydration. Parvo outbreaks are mostly seen in towns and cities with largely uninhabited dogs.
How can I prevent my dog from catching the disease?
Dogs and puppies can be vaccinated against parvovirus from six weeks of age.
A puppy should have their first vaccine by six to eight weeks. Then they need a second vaccine two weeks later. After that, they need a booster vaccine by the age of one.
After this, your vet advises that dogs need booster vaccination once or twice a year. It is essential that your dog does not catch this life-threatening disease.
Vaccination for parvovirus is routine and is one of the three major diseases that dogs are usually vaccinated against. Give your dog a vaccination card with the date of the jab and the date when the next shot is due. It will be signed by your vet or registered veterinary nurse (RVN).
Boosters are important for dogs to stay fresh, but the time between them varies, so check with your vet to see how often your dog is vaccinated.
Vaccinated puppies can also get parvovirus
How can vaccinated dogs get parvo? Puppies need a range of vaccines to create immunity to parvovirus. So if they lose a booster in the puppy vaccine series, they are infected with the parvovirus.
And if they do not continue to receive lifelong boosters as their veterinarian recommended, their antibody levels will fall very low and they will be exposed to parvovirus.
Some adoptive parents choose to test their dog antibody levels with vaccine titers every year before vaccination. If antibody levels are low, vaccination is recommended.
Viral mutation puppies are susceptible to other strains of the vaccine that are not vaccinated.
That is why your veterinarian wants to replace your puppy even though their records indicate that they were vaccinated.
Is parvovirus treatable?
Since the disease is a 100% viral infection, there is no real cure or proper treatment for it. Parvovirus treatment focuses on treating symptoms and preventing secondary bacterial infections, preferably in a hospital environment.
Intensive therapy and systemic support are key to recovery.
Intravenous fluid and nutrition therapy is vital to maintaining the dog’s normal body fluid after severe diarrhea and dehydration. Protein and electrolyte levels are monitored and regulated as needed.
Medications at the hospital used by vets to treat dogs with parvo include vomiting (antiemetics), antacids, gastro protectants, antibiotics and anthelmintics (vet-recommended diverters) to fight parasites.
When treated at a vet hospital, the survival rate in dogs is 70%, but death may be due to severe dehydration, severe secondary bacterial infections, bacterial toxins in the blood, or severe intestinal bleeding.
Diagnosis is low because puppies have low immunity. Unfortunately, a puppy infected with CPV suffers from shock and sudden death.
How to avoid parvo in dogs
The best remedy you can take against parvovirus is to follow the right protocol. Young puppies should be vaccinated from 6-8 weeks of age, and then every three to four weeks to 16 weeks of age. So a puppy who has been vaccinated for 6 weeks will be vaccinated at 9 weeks, 12 weeks and 15 weeks.
High-risk strains require an initial vaccination period of up to 22 weeks. At this point, your puppy should only meet in private areas with fully vaccinated dogs.
Stay away from all public areas where dogs can spend time, including a dog park, dog beach, pet stores, dog-friendly restaurants, farmer’s markets, and other dog-designated areas.
Always pick up your dog’s feces. This is a good habit to start immediately as it reduces environmental pollution and the spread of intestinal parasites.
Parvovirus is a disease with serious consequences. Rapid action by you and your veterinarian will give your dog the best prognosis for a complete recovery.