Canine parvovirus infection first appeared in 1978 and is a highly contagious virus. It is often referred to as ‘parvo’ and is known for attacking the cardiovascular system and gastrointestinal tract in dogs. Read the symptoms below and make an appointment immediately if you believe your dog is showing these signs.
What Causes Parvovirus in Dogs?
Veterinary professionals have discovered that the virus is usually spread through the faeces of other, infected dogs. Animals become infected when they ingest the virus and it then begins to invade the intestinal wall, causing inflammation and discomfort.
Unfortunately, parvovirus is resistant to heat, alcohol and detergents, meaning it can remain in the environment for up to one year. Unvaccinated dogs can continuously catch this virus if their environment still retains particles of parvo. Infected dogs usually show clinical signs within 7-10 days.
Parvo Symptoms in Dogs
If you see your dog vomiting repeatedly or displaying a sudden onset of bloody diarrhoea, this could mean they have contracted parvo. Diarrhoea in dogs is especially dangerous because it leads to high levels of fluid loss.
Other symptoms include lethargy and a loss of appetite. Diagnosis occurs when the parvovirus infection is found in the faeces or in the blood serum.
Preventing and Treating Parvo
The best method of protecting your dog against this illness is by following a strict puppy vaccination schedule. Puppies should receive a parvovirus vaccination when they are young, and this is continued through the adult dog vaccination schedule with boosters being administered every 1-3 years. Female dogs should receive a booster before they mate to ensure the virus isn’t passed on to their young.
If your dog has contracted the virus, the first step is to manage their hydration levels and electrolytes through intravenous fluids. In order to control their likelihood of septicaemia, dogs will be given antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication. Antispasmodic medication is used to cease the vomiting and diarrhoea, helping them to retain fluids.
This aggressive, early intervention usually results in a positive recovery for dogs, so make sure you speak to your vet as soon as you notice the symptoms.