Parvo In Dogs: Symptoms, Treatments & More

Want to learn about parvo in dogs? Read on to find the symptoms, causes, cures and more for this common canine condition.

Parvo, also known as “parvovirus” or “CPV” is a contagious viral infection which can be life-threatening in certain circumstances. The virus attacks rapidly reproducing cells in the dog’s body, with the most common form attacking the intestinal tract. Because of this, symptoms such as diarrhea in dogs can be seen. In rarer cases, the virus attacks the heart of the infected dog, which can either be fatal or affect the dog’s cardiac function for the rest of their life.

Most pets infected by parvo are puppies between 6 weeks and 6 months of age, which is why it’s especially important to get young dogs vaccinated as soon as possible. The Doberman and Rottweiler breeds are especially susceptible to the virus and if infected are likely to experience severe symptoms. Other breeds with an inherited weakness to the virus includes German Shepherds, American Staffordshire Terriers, Pit Bulls, Springer Spaniels and Labradors.

Causes

 
Parvo is highly contagious, and can be transmitted by anyone or anything which has come into contacted with the fecal waste of an infected dog. The virus is able to survive without a host for a long time, and can be found on common objects such as water dishes, chew toys and shoes. It is also common on street floors, especially in areas where there’s a large number of dogs. When your dog licks these surfaces or sniffs at infected fecal matter, he/she becomes infected.

If you have come into contacted with fecal waste, for example, accidentally stepping into it on the street, it’s important that you thoroughly clean the area with bleach. This is because the virus is highly resistance and most household disinfectants are ineffective at killing parvo.

Symptoms of parvo in dogs

 
When the parvovirus infects a dog, diarrhea will usually develop with traces of blood in stools. This is because the virus most often attacks the intestinal tract. Other symptoms which accompany infection with parvo includes anorexia, loss of appetite, fever, fatigue and vomiting, sensitivity/pain around the abdomen and a rapid heart rate. Dehydration may occur due to the loss of liquids, which can be life-threatening if allowed to develop.

If you have a young pup who develops vomiting and diarrhea suddenly, infection with this virus is likely.

Diagnosis

 
When attempting to diagnose parvovirus in dogs, your vet will likely perform an ELISA (Enzyme Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay) test, which can determine parvo based on the presence of antibodies and color change.

Other tests such as include white blood cell counts and unrinalysis tests may be performed in some circumstance,s but the ELISA method is most common.

Treatment

 
Parvovirus is a viral infection, which means we currently have no way of treating it. For this reason, treatment will be focused on relieving the symptoms experienced by your dog, preventing dehydration and bacterial infection. Because of the nature of the condition and the symptoms, your dog will usually be hospitalized. Survival rates are high but severe internal bleeding can be fatal.

Drugs often used during treatment includes antiemetics such as Cerenia for dogs to curb vomiting. Your dog may also be given antibiotics to prevent or cure secondary bacterial infection.

Prevention

 
The most important thing you should do as an owner to protect your pet is to ensure they receive vaccination against the disease. It is especially important to get your dog vaccinated if he/she is young, or is one of the susceptible breeds listed earlier.

Aside from this, follow good hygiene, teach your dog not to lick shoes and other common carriers, and teach him or her not to sniff at fecal matter. If you step in fecal waste, use bleach to clean thoroughly, most regular household cleaners aren’t sufficient in preventing parvo.



Antiemetic: Cerenia for dogs
Generic Wikipedia parvovirus entry