What Is Parvo Virus?


What Is Parvo Virus?

Canine parvovirus (CPV) is a contagious viral disease that can affect all dogs. It causes acute gastrointestinal sickness, especially in puppies. Unvaccinated dogs and puppies below four months are highly susceptible to the virus. 


The virus is resistant to cold, heat, drying, and humidity and can survive for long periods. Apart from dogs, the virus can also cause infections in coyotes, foxes, wolves, and other wild canines. It is vital to visit the veterinarian if your pet exhibits signs of illness. 



What Causes Parvovirus?


Parvo or CPV affects dogs and other canines. The deadly disease occurs frequently among unvaccinated puppies and adolescent dogs. The virus mainly spreads through contact with infected dogs or contaminated stool. 


It can also spread through contaminated humans or environments, such as kennel surfaces. You should avoid taking your pet to places where the virus is likely to lurk before completing their vaccinations. Parvo deaths usually occur 48 to 72 hours after the onset of symptoms. 



Signs of Parvovirus 


Parvovirus is a highly contagious disease. Isolating infected dogs helps to reduce the spread of infection. Common signs of CPV include the following:


  • Loss of appetite

  • Vomiting

  • Lethargy

  • Severe (bloody) diarrhea

  • Fever

  • Abdominal bloating and pain

  • Low body temperature (hypothermia)


Severe vomiting and diarrhea can result in dehydration. It can damage the immune system and intestines, resulting in septic shock. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can save your pet’s life. 



How Dogs Become Infected


While parvovirus may be present in almost any environment, not all dogs become infected. Several factors determine the risk of infection, including the animal’s immune status and the number of viruses. The best way to prevent infection is through vaccination. 


If a dog is infected, there is an incubation period before symptoms appear. During this period of three to seven days, the virus targets the lymph nodes or tonsils. The virus attacks the lymphocytes before multiplying and getting into the bloodstream. 



Prevention of Parvovirus 


Vaccination and practicing good hygiene are key components in CPV prevention. Puppies are susceptible to the disease as the immunity from the mother’s milk wears off. They easily become infected before their immune systems mature and can fight off infections. 


Puppies need a series of vaccinations to provide adequate protection against the virus in the early months. Pet parents must also ensure their adult dogs’ vaccinations are up-to-date. Talk to your veterinarian about the best vaccination schedule for your pet. 



Treatment of Parvovirus 


There is no specific drug to kill the parvovirus when a dog is infected. CPV treatment aims to support the immune system, allowing it to fight off the infection. Treatment should begin immediately and will include combating dehydration by replacing fluids, proteins, and electrolytes.


Efforts to control vomiting and diarrhea and prevention of secondary infections are essential. It is vital to keep the sick dog warm during treatment. Unfortunately, many dogs die even with aggressive treatment. Therefore, early treatment is crucial for successful outcomes. 


As a pet parent, you should do what you can to keep your pet from coming into contact with parvovirus. Proper and prompt disposal of waste material is essential to prevent the spread of infections. If your dog shows symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, your veterinarian can conduct tests to determine if it is due to CPV. 

For more information on parvovirus, visit Highland Veterinary Clinic at our office in Evansville, Indiana. Call 812-710-4300 to book an appointment today.