How to recognize, prevent and treat parvovirus in dogs.
Canine parvovirus (CPV) is a deadly, highly contagious disease, characterized by diarrhea that is often bloody. Currently, it is the most common infectious canine disease in the United States.
Symptoms of Parvovirus in Dogs
Parvovirus in dogs is spread through contact with feces from an infected dog. A dog that is infected will show a wide range of symptoms, including loss of appetite, depression, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and dark or bloody feces.
These symptoms will be most pronounced in puppies and young dogs, in fact, many adult dogs will show no symptoms at all.
The most common form of parvo is enteritis, which attacks the digestive and immune systems. The disease will progress very quickly and death can occur as early as two days after the initial infection.
It is therefore vital that you get your dog to the vet immediately, if he has any of the symptoms described above.
Parvovirus in dogs: Which dogs are at risk?
Dogs of any breed, sex, or age are at risk from parvovirus. However, the disease is particularly dangerous to dogs under 6 months of age with the most severe cases seen in puppies younger than 12 weeks.
Certain breeds also tend to be more susceptible, in particular Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and Labrador Retrievers.
Treatment of Parvovirus in Dogs
The treatment of parvovirus is fairly straightforward, but almost always requires veterinary care. Even with professional care, mortality rates are high, so if you suspect your dog may have parvo get him to a vet right away.
Treatment is mainly by supportive therapy, replacing lost fluids and giving a balanced electrolyte solution intravenously. Antibiotics are also normally given to fight off secondary bacterial infections.
If the dog has severe symptoms, an antiserum may be given, while corticosteroids may be administered to a dog that is in shock.
There may also be drugs given to control vomiting, while a de-worming agent is often used once the worst of the intestinal symptoms are over.
Prevention of Parvovirus in Dogs
All dogs must be vaccinated against Parvovirus. Shots are normally given at 8, 12 and 16 weeks old. Thereafter the dog receives a booster shot, once annually.
It is important to note that the parvovirus is particularly resilient, and can survive on an inanimate object, like a dog’s bowl or blanket, for up to 5 months.
If your dog has been infected, the safest course is to dispose of blankets and bedding, and wash all hard surfaces like bowls, crates and kennel floors in a bleach solution ( half a cup bleach to 1 gallon of water). Better to be safe than sorry because parvovirus in dogs is a very serious disease.