Preventing the Parvovirus in Dogs
Breaking down the parvovirus and its impact on dogs.
In recent months there have been several cases of Parvovirus in Massachusetts. Though there are cases every year, this year we have experienced an increased number.
Keeping your dog’s vaccinations up to date will prevent parvo. Many dog owners are feeling the economic pinch and delaying annual trips to the vet and delaying vaccinations. But, an animal’s annual physical is essential in helping keep your pet healthy.
The most common serious infectious disease for dogs in this country is canine parvovirus. Canine parvovirus (a.k.a. parvo or CPV) causes ulcerative enteritis and diarrhea (which can sometimes be bloody) in the infected dogs. This diarrhea can be life threatening since it can dehydrate a dog over a short period of time.
Parvovirus tends to be a “tough and resistant bug.” Parvovirus can live for long periods of time on household surfaces. Rugs in particular are difficult to sanitize.
Some common symptoms of parvovirus can include depression, vomiting and diarrhea, which can result in severe dehydration. Bloody stools and a drop in white blood cell numbers are also common, according to published reports.
However, there are several viruses and bacteria that can have similar symptoms in dogs. Therefore, this commonly leads to misdiagnosis. Parvo symptoms can be common signs of other ailments, but only a test at a veterinarian’s office can determine the presence of parvo.
Parvovirus is especially dangerous for puppies. Some puppies can die as soon as diarrhea occurs.
Unfortunately, once a dog gets parvovirus there is no anti-viral medication, so much of the treatment tends to be supportive in nature, mainly treating the dehydration and administering IV fluids to keep electrolytes balanced.
The second tier of care is to prevent secondary infections that can occur due to the tissue damage and low white blood cell counts caused by parvovirus. This type of supportive treatment can be one to two hundred times more expensive than the vaccination itself and requires hospitalization.
Heartworm, parvo and distemper, are all preventable illnesses. When you keep up to date with your veterinarian’s recommended care, it will keep your pet’s tail wagging for years to come.
References used: “Clinical Anatomy and Physiology for Veterinary Technicians” and “Essentials of Biology.”