Common Disease - Parvovirus

Canine Parvovirus, commonly known as Parvo, is extremely contagious and debilitating. It affects puppies that are not adequately vaccinated very severely. The virus is transmitted mainly by infected excrement. A contaminated animal removes the virus in large amounts in the stool for two weeks. But the virus can persist in the environment beyond six months!

Symptoms can occur on average 5 days after exposure. They begin with weakness, loss of appetite, and high fever. Vomiting and diarrhea (with blood often) develop later. Parvovirus causes serious damage to the intestinal mucosa and there can be absorption of bacteria (sepsis). All these signs lead to significant dehydration. In severe cases, the virus can cause shock and even death.

Some breeds seem more likely: Doberman, Rottweiler, PittBull, Labrador, English Springer Spaniel.

If the veterinarian suspects that your pet is suffering from Parvovirus, it can be diagnosed with an Elisa test performed on the stool. A blood test (hematology) can also help to establish the diagnosis. Since the virus can affect the immune system, white blood cells such as neutrophils are often very few.

Unfortunately, there is no anti-virus treatment. This is therefore supportive care. The treatments depend on the severity of the infection. Most dogs require intravenous fluid therapy for rehydration and antibiotics for injections. Fasting is important as long as the animal is vomiting. One can also consider the use of antiemetic. In some severe cases, loss of protein due to profuse diarrhea requires plasma transfusion or intravenous administration of colloids. Symptoms can usually last 4 to 7 days. An animal that recovers parvo should be isolated from other dogs for 3-4 weeks. Disinfection of contaminated premises and objects with diluted bleach (1:30) is effective.

Bitches that have immunity acquired through vaccination or prior exposure to the virus transmit antibodies to their puppies through milk. These antibodies protect the puppies for the first weeks, but afterwards, they must be vaccinated!

Thus, vaccination is the best way to protect your dog against infection. Puppies should be vaccinated at 3-4 weeks until the age of 16 weeks.