Dog Parvo – The Deadliest Dog Disease
February 24, 2019
Dog parvovirus is commonly referred to as "parvo" or CPV and it is a severe type of virus. Parvo is highly infectious and can be spread around very easily. Sadly, most cases of parvo result in fatalities. However, survival is possible depending on how quickly the condition is treated and the primary health of the animal when it caught the virus.
How Do Dogs Get Parvo?
This virus is commonly spread when dogs come into contact with faecal matter from infected animals. Puppy parks, roadway rest stops and popular walking streets in urban communities are all places where infections and viruses are easily picked up. If your dog isn’t vaccinated against the virus, it’s highly likely that your dog will pick up the infection.
Your dog doesn’t even have to go outside to pick up the infection, you can bring it into your home from the outside. The virus is able to live without a host on a surface for up to six months.
The Dog parvovirus strikes the intestinal tract, white platelets, and in some uncommon cases, damages the heart muscle. The basic characteristic of the dog parvo is dividing cells (similar to a disease such as cancer). The division of cells causes even more secondary problems for dogs such as diarrhoea and ulcerative enteritis.
As the cells are under attack, your dog will lose the ability to ingest and absorb nutrients from their food or the fluids they need to stay hydrated.
Sadly, it is not an all too uncommon story that sometimes dog owners adopt or buy puppies or adult dogs which are already infected with the parvovirus. If you adopt a dog from the neighbourhood shelter, you should take him to your veterinarian for a checkup and ask for a vaccination, unless the shelter regulated routine immunizations while the dog was in their care. If you have more than one dog in your home, you will want to be especially careful about bringing a new dog into your home which may come with deadly viruses!
Most well-known breeders who offer puppies for sale make an effort to lower the chance of infections, however, there are no guarantees so immunizations are the best way of prevention. Puppies aged between six weeks and six months are more susceptible to the disease, which is why it is so crucial not to hang around when getting immunisations.
Your dog is also much more likely to catch the disease if you are in a well-populated area where there are high amounts of unvaccinated dogs in the area. As the symptoms take up to 7 days to manifest, people can carry on walking their dogs in public without knowing they are risking the lives of other dogs.
Although many dogs pick up the disease on the street it can be picked up by contact with anything which is harbouring the disease from bowls to bedding to clothes.
The most well-known symptoms of dog parvovirus are:
Diarrhoea with spots of blood – often foul smelling
In extreme cases, once the virus has infected your dog, sudden death can occur. Sadly, many of the deaths caused by parvo will happen 48 to 72 hours after you start to see the symptoms, so time really is an important factor here.
The symptoms of the dog parvo can appear 7 to 10 days after the initial infection. In the early stages, the most recognizable symptoms are an absence of liveliness and a loss of appetite. However, these symptoms are common with many different ailments, which is why it is important that you always pay good attention to your dog’s physical health.
With Parvo, it isn’t long before dogs infected with the parvo infection will soon show clear signs of dehydration and hunger. If your dog, and particularly your new puppy starts displaying any of these indications, see a veterinarian immediately! Remember – parvovirus is a deadly disease and can result in fatalities.
The severity of the Parvo Virus
The seriousness of the sickness depends on the age of the dog, the levels of antibodies in their system, the severity of the infection and the breed of the infected dog. Breeds like Pit Bull Terriers and Doberman Pinschers are amongst the breeds which suffer the worst from Parvo.
As indicated by veterinarians, there is no known cure for the dog parvo. Traditional treatment is maintaining hydration and keeping electrolyte levels with your dog. They will also start to have issues regulating their temperature during this period.
Yet regardless of the possibility that a dog survives the initial stages of the parvo disease, there is still a high chance that they will face complications during the recuperation period. Due to the severity of the disease, it is imperative to get your dog vaccinated. Most veterinarians suggest, that a young puppy should be vaccinated every 3 to 4 weeks starting when the pup is 6 weeks of age and proceeding until it is 20 weeks old.
Keep in mind that the puppy parvo symptoms look like other infections (like worms or poisoning) and are frequently misdiagnosed. The best way to know whether a dog has the Parvo infection is through a positive indicative test which can be carried out by your vet. If your pet has any of the common side effects listed above, you will need to consult your vet immediately.
The chances of your dog suffering from the disease terminally are high, especially if they are left to get dehydrated. A veterinarian will alleviate the dehydration, which can keep the dog alive long enough for the dog’s autoimmune system to battle the illness. Usual hydration treatment will include fluids being given to the dog intravenously, and your dog may need to stay at the vet’s under their watchful eye for a week, or in more severe cases they may need to be kept under observation for longer.
Anti-infectious agents are not viable against this infection; however, they are generally given to an infected animal to prevent secondary bacterial infections. A blood test showing a low white platelet count is a well-known confirmation for parvovirus. Your dog may require multiple tests during their treatment for Parvo to constantly assess the situation.
Although humans can’t catch Parvo, it is important to thoroughly clean everything which an infected dog has come into contact with. Never bring a new dog into your home within six months of your dog being diagnosed with the Parvovirus.