There are lots of scary sounding viruses and diseases out there but what do they really mean – how could it affect your dog? And how can you treat and prevent it? We take a look at canine parvovirus…
What is canine parvovirus?
‘Parvo’ or canine parvovirus is a highly infectious gastrointestinal disease that attacks the cells of the gut causing severe vomiting and diarrhoea usually with blood. The virus emerged in the 1970’s.
How can dogs contract parvo?
Infection is via the feco-oral route, meaning the virus is shed in diarrhoea of infected dogs and acquired by dogs sniffing or licking the infected stool. The virus is very resilient in the environment and can remain for a year on the ground after being shed.
What are the symptoms of canine parvovirus?
The virus has an incubation period of 3-5 days and dogs usually present with loss of appetite and vomiting which then progresses to bloody diarrhoea. Dogs will often die from bacterial septicaemia when the gut lining is so badly damaged that it leaks bacteria into the blood stream.
How is parvo treated?
Treatment is largely supportive, providing fluid therapy, anti-nausea medication and also broad spectrum antibiotics to prevent secondary bacterial sepsis through the damaged gut lining. A significant percentage of dogs will die despite treatment.
How can canine parvovirus be prevented?
Prevention is through vaccination. All UK canine vaccines will contain a parvovirus component and it is important puppies have their full course before being exposed to potential infected environments; public streets and parks. As with all vaccines there are rare cases of dogs that acquire the condition despite vaccination but largely speaking vaccination is protective.
For more information on canine parvovirus, or to get your dog or puppy vaccination, visit your team at The Vet.