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Canine Parvovirus

Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Canine Parvovirus Canine Parvovirus Dog

Protecting your pets against the deadly 'Parvo' virus.

Parvovirus is a canine viral disease that is highly contagious and is now present in the Bahamas. This disease mostly attacks the intestinal system of the dog. When it manifests itself in the intestinal tract, you can quickly take note of it from the following symptoms:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Anorexia

Once the dog is affected by the intestinal CPV, its body becomes unable to absorb nutrients, which causes the animal becoming weak and dehydrated. Consequently, the heart rate may increase and the wet tissue of the mouth and the eyes become red. A touch in the stomach may prompt the dog to respond with discomfort. At times, the affected dogs may have low temperatures instead of high fever. In other cases, parvovirus also attacks the white blood cells while in puppies it attacks the heart muscles. These attacks lead to an early death or lifetime cardiovascular complications to the animal. Puppies within the age of six weeks to six months are more susceptible to this form of CPV. However, it can be prevented through early vaccination with cases of this life-threatening condition reported to have declined.

How is Parvovirus Contracted?

As noted earlier, parvovirus is a highly contagious disease and can be transmitted by any animal, human, or object that comes in direct or indirect contact with infected feces. The disease has a high mortality rate of 91% if it goes untreated. Proper attention and hospitalization can reduce the rate to 80%. The virus has a high resistant rate and can survive in inanimate objects such as shoes, bowls, clothes, floors, and carpets for months. However, it is difficult for the virus to contract vaccinated dogs with the unvaccinated ones likely to get the disease from the streets, as there is a high dog population.

Parvovirus Diagnosis

Parvovirus is detected by standard signs or by use of clinical lab tests. The most common test is the Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbant Assay (ELISA) kit, which takes 15 minutes to detect the virus in the dog's stool. The test is however not a hundred percent accurate, and for that reason, the veterinarian may need to perform blood tests to be sure.

Commonly Affected Dogs

The canine parvovirus affects all members of the dog family including wolves, coyote, and foxes with the most susceptible being puppies, adolescents and the unvaccinated. When it comes to dog breeds, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweiler, Doberman pinschers, and American Staffordshire terriers are the most susceptible to the virus.

Causes of Canine Parvovirus and Risk Factors

CPV is due to a genetic mutation of the CPV type 2b, which is the original canine parvovirus. Although there are many ways that the virus can be spread, the most common way is through direct or indirect contact with infected feces. The wastes tend to have high concentration virus, and a healthy dog can be infected simply by sniffing. The virus is hard to get rid of since it is resistant. If you want to clean an infected area, you will have first to remove contamination objects such as feces and vomit. Then thoroughly clean the area using household bleach solution before disinfecting with the few disinfectants that are known to work.

Canine Parvovirus Prevention Measures

Regular vaccination is the only sure way to defend your pet from contracting this deadly disease. A vaccine against parvovirus should be considered a crucial part of your puppy or adult dog. While vaccinating the puppies, you should consider doing it together with protection for other diseases. For instance, a five-in-one vaccine is highly efficient and can keep your puppies protected against hepatitis, parvovirus, distemper, leptospirosis, and parainfluenza.

The following measures are also useful in preventing your dog from catching the virus:

  • Limiting the contact your pet has with unvaccinated animals until h has had at least two vaccinations
  • While going out with your puppy, whether it is to the clinic or somewhere you have to wait in the lobby, consider holding him in your lap. Doing this prevents chances that he will go to places where other dogs have gone to bathroom hence reducing chances of contamination.
  • Avoid going to places that are high risk for parvoviruses. These places include pet stores, dog parks, and clinics among other public areas where the number of unvaccinated dogs is great
  • If you note that your dog or puppy is experiencing the above-noted symptoms, take him to the veterinarian as quickly as possible. In some cases, the parvovirus may show only one symptom, and therefore you have to be on the lookout
  • If you have plans of adopting a new dog, it necessary that you leave the puppy at home, prepare for a meet, and greet only after you are sure your new dog is fully vaccinated

Treating Canine Parvovirus

Many people think that grown dogs do not catch this deadly virus. That is not true. You have to vaccinate mature dogs against this condition. Similarly, a vaccinated puppy can contract canine parvovirus under certain conditions. In case your pet has been affected by this life threatening condition, you will need to put him under treatment immediately. The treatment requires round-the-clock examination by the doctor, which is very costly. For such reasons, it is important to take the preventive measures seriously.

During the treatment period, the pet is administered with fluids and antibiotics as well as syringe feeding. As you nurse your dog, you also have to monitor his progress. Nursing the pet at home is a bit cheaper as you will only be required to pay for drugs, fluids, and some additional service fees. However, since the pet requires maximum supervision, you might be needed to sacrifice more such as taking time off from your job if you do not have someone who can watch your dog for you.

Post-Recovery Management

Even after your dog has recovered from this deadly virus, it will require close monitoring as it will be weak from the disease. During this time, its immune system is weak which makes it susceptible to other diseases. For this reason, consider giving your dog an easily digestible diet and talk to your veterinarian about ways to boost his immune system. Additionally, you may also consider isolating your dog for some time since he will be a high contagion risk to other dogs. Clean all the items he touches thoroughly including the kennel and eating bowls. Take a step further to inform your neighbors to have their dogs checked and vaccinated to help eradicate the virus from your neighborhood.

For vaccination, diagnosis, or treatment of this deadly disease please contact the Nassau Pet Clinic for assistance at (242) 322-4209


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We have been using Dr. Dorsett's services for years and he's taken care of many procedures on our cats and dogs from vaccinations and worming, to putting our old beloved pets down after a very long life. Every visit is handled with compassion and care.

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