How unfortunate it is that even with a preventative vaccination available we are still seeing Parvovirus more than 30 years after it first appeared. When the Canine Parvovirus first appeared in 1978 there was no vaccine available and many animals died. The disease is as serious now as before but we know so much more about it and can even prevent it. The doctors at Pulaski Animal Hospital see Parvo on a regular basis in unvaccinated animals and can not stress enough the importance of having your pet updated on the vaccine.
How does a dog become infected with parvovirus?
The main source of the virus is from the feces of other infected dogs. The virus begins to shed just before clinical signs develop and continues for about 10 days. Susceptible dogs become infected by ingesting the virus where it proceeds to the intestinal wall and causes inflammation.
What are the clinical signs of Parvo?
The clinical signs can vary but generally include severe vomiting and diarrhea. The diarrhea often has a strong smell, may contain lots of mucus and may contain blood. Additionally, affected dogs often exhibit a lack of appetite, depression, fever and listlessness. Parvo may affect dogs of all ages but is most common in younger animals. Any unvaccinated puppy that has vomiting or diarrhea should be tested.
Can parvovirus be treated?
While there is no treatment to kill the virus once it infects a dog, supportive care is essential and lifesaving for parvovirus. Hospitalization and intravenous (IV) fluids are usually required to prevent severe dehydration. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs are given to prevent or control secondary bacterial infections. Most dogs with the infection can recover if aggressive treatment is used and the therapy is begun before severe dehydration and septicemia occur.
Can parvovirus be prevented?
The best method of protecting your dog is with proper vaccination. Puppies receive 3 parvo vaccinations before the age of 4 months and require a booster on a yearly basis. Some dogs may require additional vaccines. Your veterinarian will discuss with you and make the final decision about a proper vaccination schedule for your pet.