A highly contagious acute disease in canines that was first discovered and named in the early 1970’s. This is a virus that tends to attack fast reproducing cells like those found in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. The virus will be in its greatest concentration in the stool of highly infected canines for several weeks following infection. This deadly disease is transmitted when dogs contact infected feces orally. Parvo is also carried on a dog’s feet and hair, or in a crate that is contaminated, on human shoes or other exposed objects. If a dog licks this infected fecal material on any of these objects he will acquire the disease.
Dogs of all ages can be affected by Parvo, however most cases will occur in puppies between 6 to 20 weeks of age. Certain breeds such as Doberman Pinschers and Rottweiler have shown to acquire this deadly infection at a higher rate and experience more severe symptoms than other breeds. Researchers are unsure as to the reasons for these two breeds having lower resistance to the parvovirus.
The incubation period on average is four to five days and then the acute illness begins with symptoms of depression, vomiting and diarrhea. Some dogs may have a high fever while others may not. Puppies who experience severe abdominal pain will appear to have a tucked-up abdomen. The diarrhea will be profuse, have mucus and or blood. Dehydration will develop very quickly. Routine vaccinations in a brood bitch approximately two to four weeks prior to breeding does elevate the maternal antibody levels and seems to provide better protection for puppies.
You should suspect parvo in any puppy that shows an abrupt beginning of diarrhea and vomiting. The identification of the virus is most efficiently diagnosed when examining the stool. A visit to the veterinarian will allow them to run these virus isolation techniques to get a precise diagnoses.
The treatment for parvo requires intensive veterinary management. It generally requires hospitalization even in the mildest of cases. It is imperative to correct dehydration and raise electrolyte imbalances immediately. The fastest method is with intravenous fluids and medications to control the diarrhea and vomiting. In very severe cases it may require a blood plasma transfusion. Antibiotics are also prescribed to prevent septicemia and other bacterial complications, which are generally the cause of most of the deaths from parvo.
Age, immune status of the canine, and how quickly treatments are started will determine the outcome of the case. If a puppy is under good veterinary care they can recover from this virus without continuing complications.
Prevention is probably the most important step that an owner can take. Properly vaccinating your pet is the first step. Second thoroughly clean, using a disinfectant, all of the quarters that have been infected. It is a difficult virus to kill and is resistant to most household cleaners, and can survive on the premises for months if not properly destroyed. Household bleach at a 1:32 dilution is the most effective. It must be left on the contaminated area for a minimum of 20 minutes before being rinsed. Removing all infected feces from the property is also necessary since the virus can be retained in the soil or on hair sheds where feces will remain. Destroy all bedding and chew toys that have been exposed, and spray the entire area with the bleach solution. .