Have you heard about the Parvo virus? If you are a dog lover then you should be aware about it. Parvovirus in dogs or Parvo was first detected in the late 1970s and is a highly contagious and infectious disease. In untreated cases it has a mortality rate of over 90%. There are two types of this disease, the first one affects the cells of the intestinal tissues, while the second type which is rarer, attacks the heart of the animal. The most normal means of transmission of the disease is through contact with infected feces. The virus can survive for months in that environment and it can also live in the soil for a long time.
The virus is also very hardy and can withstand extreme weather conditions. Prevention through vaccination is the best way of fighting the disease or rather preventing it in the first place. Puppies that have not been given any vaccination are the most prone to Parvo virus, although adult dogs have also been known to have been infected with the disease.
Once the virus enters the system of an animal it attacks it rapidly. It affects the cells in the gut and affects the bone marrow as well. Because it affects the bone marrow it destroys the white blood cells, leaving the animal susceptible to other forms of infection. Here are some of the symptoms that you can find in your dog once he or she becomes infected with parvovirus:
Loss of Appetite
This is the first thing that you might notice in your dog, but since other diseases have the same symptom it might not lead you to think right away that your dog has Parvo virus.
Depression and Lethargy
Your dog will become less active once the infection sets in.
Pain in the Abdomen
Diarrhea with Foul Smelling Discharge
There is no direct cure for the disease and this is why prevention is the best thing recommended. The only thing that can be done for an infected dog is supportive treatment, to help the animal’s immune system in fighting the virus. Generally, infected dogs who survive after five days of infection will be able to survive long term, but as we have mentioned the mortality rate for the disease is very high. Hospitalization is usually recommended for an infected dog to help make sure that all the best possible support treatment can be provided. Here are some of the treatments that are administered for dogs with Parvo once they reach the pet hospital:
Fluid therapy to replace the fluids lost and to prevent dehydration. Because diarrhea is one of the main symptoms of the disease the dog will rapidly lose bodily fluids and nutrients. Because of loss of appetite, fluids needs to be administered intravenously.
Application of antibiotics in order to fight off secondary infections in the body. Secondary infections become common in cases of Parvo virus as you can imagine, because the disease kills off the dog’s white blood cells in their bone marrow.
Medications for nausea. The dog can also suffer from severe cases of nausea.
In severe cases where the animal is really suffering, pain medications can and should be applied.
As we have mentioned before prevention is the only effective means of fighting Parvo virus infection. Make sure that your dog will be vaccinated for the disease as early as possible. Puppies are more susceptible to the disease since their immune system is a lot weaker than those of adult dogs. Also they tend to take things into their mouth more frequently than grown dogs. Even if your older dag has not yet been vaccinated against Parvo virus, now is the time to get it done. I would recommend speaking to your vet about this easily preventable but highly contagious and lethal virus.