Canine Parvovirus Infection in Dogs

Canine Parvovirus Infection in Dogs

Thanks to our media, we have been receiving multiple calls asking if there has been an outbreak of Parvovirus and is my pet at risk! The short answer is no there hasn’t been a sudden outbreak. The longer answer is that there is always a risk of Parvovirus. Below is a quick overview of Parvovirus and hopefully will clear up some misconceptions about this highly contagious viral illness and how you can protect your dogs.

Highly contagious viral illness.  It manifests itself in two different forms.

  1. Intestinal:  is the most common.  Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
  2. Cardiac:  is the less common form.  It attacks the heart muscles of fetuses and very young puppies, killing them.

The majority of cases are seen in puppies age 6 weeks to 6 months.

Sign & Symptoms:

  • severe, bloody diarrhea
  • lethargy
  • anorexia
  • fever
  • vomiting
  • severe weight loss

The intestinal form of CPV affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.  The animal will quickly become dehydrated and weak from lack of protein and fluid absorption.  The wet tissue of the mouth and eyes may become red and the animal will have a rapid heartbeat.  The puppy may also have low body temperature rather than a fever.

The highest concentration of the virus is found in the stool, then the saliva.  This is where it is highly contagious to other dogs.  And since dog’s naturally want to sniff each other’s behind and at times eat each other’s stool, you can see how easy it can be to spread the virus to another dog!  Owner’s can also bring it to a dog after getting the virus on the shoes.  There is also evidence that the virus can live in the soil for up to a year!  It is resistant to standard cleaners and some weather won’t even kill it.  This makes it very important to pick up your pet’s stool and use the right cleaners.

Some breeds seem to be more susceptible to parvo than others.  There is no known reason why.  These include Rottweliers, Pit Bull Terriers, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinchers, Labrador Retrievers, English Springer Spaniels, and Alaskan Sled Dogs.

Since parvo is viral, there is no real cure.  So we simply rely on symptom management to get your pet through the virus.  Fluid therapy is the most important due to the extreme dehydration from diarrhea and vomiting.  Next is medicines to stop the vomiting and diarrhea.  Third is keeping the puppy from getting infections due to an overwhelmed immune system.

Now that you know how contagious parvo is, you hopefully understand the extreme precautions we must take to protect all the clients at VIP Animal Care.  Whenever a pet, especially a puppy, has diarrhea, we must limit exposure in our office.  If we suspect parvo at all, we will ask you to park in the far part of the parking lot and let us come to you to first test for parvo and then determine a course of action.  We may even treat at your vehicle.  If your dog is treated in the clinic, we must clean every surface including shoes with special cleaners.

Parvovirus is included in your dog’s yearly distemper vaccination. It is what we call a 4 in 1 vaccine because it contains 4 vaccines in one shot. So as long as you are following our vaccination protocols, your dog is covered against parvovirus.


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