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Parvo in Dogs – 10 Things you should know about Parvo

This post include on query Parvo in dogs especially it’s symptoms, causes, prevention, treatment and Control by thevetscare.com

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Canine Parvovirus Infection in Dogs

The canine parvovirus (CPV) infection is a highly contagious viral illness that affects dogs. The virus manifests itself in two different forms.

The more common form is the intestinal form, which is characterized by vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and lack of appetite (anorexia). The less common form is the cardiac form, which attacks the heart muscles of fetuses and very young puppies, often leading to death.

The majority of cases are seen in puppies that are between six weeks and six months old. The incidence of canine parvovirus infections has been reduced radically by early vaccination in young puppies.

Signs & Symptoms of Parvo in Dogs

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The major symptoms associated with the intestinal form of a canine parvovirus infection include:

The intestinal form of CPV affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, and an affected animal will quickly become dehydrated and weak from lack of protein and fluid absorption. The wet tissue of the mouth and eyes may become noticeably red, and the heart may beat too rapidly.

When your veterinarian examines your dog’s abdominal area, your dog may respond due to pain or discomfort. Dogs who have contracted CPV may also have a low body temperature (hypothermia), rather than a fever.

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How is Parvo Spread?

Most cases of CPV infections are caused by a genetic alteration of the original canine parvovirus: the canine parvovirus type 2b. There are a variety of risk factors that can increase a dog’s susceptibility to the disease, but mainly, parvovirus is spread either by direct contact with an infected dog, or indirectly, by the fecal-oral route.

Heavy concentrations of the virus are found in an infected dog’s stool, so when a healthy dog sniffs an infected dog’s stool (or anus), that dog can contract the disease. The virus can also be brought into a dog’s environment by way of shoes that have come into contact with infected feces. 

There is evidence that the virus can live in ground soil for up to a year. It is resistant to most cleaning products, or even to weather changes.

If you need to clean up a parvovirus-contaminated area, first pick up and safely dispose of all organic material (vomit, feces, etc.), and then thoroughly wash the area with a concentrated household bleach solution, one of the few disinfectants known to kill the virus.

If a dog has had parvovirus in a home, it is best not to have a puppy in that home for several years.

Due to the density of dogs, breeding kennels and dog shelters that hold a large number of unvaccinated puppies are particularly hazardous places.

This is why your veterinarian will want to re-vaccinate your puppy even if records from the breeder indicate it has had a vaccination. Shelters and rescue groups will often place puppies into foster homes until they are ready for adoption to minimize risk of spreading parvovirus.

For unknown reasons, certain dog breeds, such as Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, Labrador Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, English Springer Spaniels and Alaskan sled dogs, are particularly vulnerable to the disease. Your veterinarian may recommend an extended vaccination protocol in these breeds.

Diagnosis of Parvovirus in Dogs

CPV is diagnosed with a physical examination, biochemical tests, and a special test for the parvovirus in feces. A urine analysis, abdominal radiographs and abdominal ultrasounds may also be performed.

Low white blood cell levels and significant dehydration are indicative of CPV infection, especially in association with bloody stools.

Biochemical and urine analysis may reveal elevated liver enzymes, lymphopenia, and electrolyte imbalances. Abdominal radiograph imaging may show intestinal obstruction, while an abdominal ultrasound may reveal enlarged lymph nodes in the groin, or throughout the body, and fluid-filled intestinal segments.

You will need to give your vet a thorough history of your pet’s health, vaccination history, recent activities and onset of symptoms. It is important to retrace your dog’s steps for both possible exposure and potential contamination. 

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Is Parvovirus Treatable?

Since the disease is a viral infection, there is no real cure for it. Parvovirus treatment is focused on curing the symptoms and preventing secondary bacterial infections, preferably in a hospital environment. Intensive therapy and systemic support are the keys to recovery.

Intravenous fluid and nutrition therapy are crucial in maintaining a dog’s normal body fluid after severe diarrhea and dehydration, and protein and electrolyte levels will be monitored and regulated as necessary. Dog medications that may be used in the treatment include drugs to curb vomiting (antiemetics), antacids, gastroprotectants, prescription pet antibiotics, and anthelmintics (vet-recommended dewormers) to fight parasites. The survival rate in dogs is about 70 percent when treated in the hospital, but death may sometimes result from severe dehydration, a severe secondary bacterial infection, bacterial toxins in the blood or a severe intestinal hemorrhage.

Prognosis is lower for puppies, since they have a less developed immune system. It is common for a puppy who is infected with CPV to suffer shock and sudden death.

It is possible to treat parvovirus in your home under the direction of your veterinarian. It is a very labor-intensive process but can mean the difference between life and death when funds or circumstances do not permit in-hospital treatment. Your veterinarian will teach you to give fluids and to monitor vital signs.

Is Parvo Different From Heartworms?

As mentioned above, parvo is a virus whereas all worms in dogs, including heartworms, are parasites. Parasites are sometimes easy to spot in dog waste, but often are not easily detected by the human eye. The symptoms for parvo and heartworms in dogs are almost identical and so is the cost of treatment and severity of health concerns.

Both can potentially result in death if not treated quickly and correctly but the good news is that both can be treated with preventative medicines such as Heartgard. (Parasites like worms and ticks thrive in warm climates so be especially cautious about remembering the monthly heartworm preventative medicine during summer months. Your dog will thank you.)

What Are the Symptoms of Parvo?

Parvo generally incubates for five to ten days, meaning that five to ten days after a dog is exposed to the virus they will begin to show symptoms. Symptoms vary from dog to dog for a number of reasons, but a handful of symptoms are most commonly seen with infection. Most commonly dogs that have contracted this virus will become extremely lethargic, will have a fever, will begin vomiting and will also have diarrhea.

What tips most people off to there being a problem with their dog is the presence of blood in their diarrhea. It is important that if you ever notice blood in your dog’s stool that you take them to the vet immediately. As a result of these primary symptoms, dogs can also begin to suffer from dehydration and infection. Any dog with diarrhea or vomiting should always be kept properly hydrated, if this is not possible at home or if you suspect a parvo infection, take your dog to the vet and they will begin to administer IV fluids.

In cases of intestinal parvo, the lining of the intestines can become damaged and protein and blood can leak into the bloodstream. This can cause a number of medical concerns such as sepsis, anemia, the escape of endotoxins into the bloodstream and a severe drop in white blood cells. Depending on the overall health of the dog, any one of these conditions can severely debilitate or kill an infected dog.

The first sign to look for in a dog infected with parvo is lethargy. A lethargic dog may be difficult to spot if you have an older dog or a dog that has very little energy as a result of any number of conditions. A lethargic dog will not want to get up for treats or food and they will generally fail to respond to any stimulation such as their favorite toy. Failing to notice the lethargy that can be seen in parvo infected dogs is not uncommon but the loss of appetite and diarrhea that follow are much more difficult to miss. After the development of diarrhea, dogs may also begin vomiting.

How Is Parvo Diagnosed?

If your dog shows any of the signs of parvo virus, you should take him or her to the vet immediately. When parvo is suspected, an EIA or hemagglutination test can be performed on feces to look for signs of the canine parvo virus. An electron microscope may also be used to look for signs of the virus. The drawback to using EIA or enzyme immunoassay for testing for signs of the parvo virus is that dogs in later stages of the disease may not shed much of the virus in their feces.

In these cases, many veterinarians rely upon PCR or polymerase chain reaction to test for the virus. The term PCR refers to a process of amplifying a piece of DNA across various magnitudes. This type of PCR amplification results in thousands (or more) of copies of the DNA sequence being looked at to magnify causes for concern.

Ruling Out Other Causes

If a dog shows symptoms similar to those of parvo, it is important that your veterinarian be able to rule out other potential causes. Looking for signs of parvo in feces is the easiest way to determine infection. Other symptoms that cluster are also indicative of a parvo infection, these include a low white blood cell count, diarrhea with blood in it and evidence of necrosis in the intestinal lining.

These symptoms are more classic to parvo infection than any other illness. While the intestinal form of parvo virus can occasionally be confused with other types of illnesses such as corona virus, there is no mistaking the symptoms of cardiac parvo.

Treatment Of Parvo Virus

There are a number of factors that determine how effective treatment can be against parvo virus once a dog has already been infected. There is currently a particularly effective vaccine for dogs that have not yet been exposed to the illness, but dogs that have already been infected with the virus face a much different road of treatment. Time is one of the most significant factors in whether or not a treatment for parvo will be successful: The earlier the virus is detected and treatment begins, the better the outlook for treatment.

Age also plays a significant role in how effective a parvo treatment will be. Extremely young, old or immune-compromised dogs will not be able to withstand the more aggressive types of treatments designed to eradicate parvo.

Hospitalization And Medication

A dog with parvo should always be hospitalized to receive treatment. Treatment generally consists of the administration of crystalloid IV fluids and or colloids, administration of anti-nausea medications and injection of antibiotics. The particular types of medications used – both anti-nausea and antibiotics — vary depending upon the dog and the vet issuing the treatment.

Some dogs have particular sensitivities to certain medications and some veterinarians have a better track record of using specific treatments. If dogs continue to vomit or void their bowels during treatment, they are also administered additional fluids to rehydrate them. The administration of fluids overall serves to both rehydrate and re-balance levels of electrolytes and other elements in the body that help maintain healthy functions.

Blood Plasma Transfusions

In some cases, veterinarians may choose to utilize a somewhat unique procedure called a blood plasma transfusion. This treatment involves taking blood plasma from a dog that has survived canine parvo virus and has developed antibodies to it. This blood is transfused into the infected dog and is looked upon as providing passive immunity. There are no in-depth studies at the moment to identify whether or not this method is more effective in treating parvo than other more traditional methods.

Returning To Normal Function

After initial treatment for the parvo virus dogs will begin to be weaned off additional fluids, only once they can keep fluids down. Sustenance will be administered in the way of bland food; this is generally a prescription-based food that is easy on the gastrointestinal system. Oral antibiotics are generally continued after the initial treatment in dogs that show low white blood cell counts to help fight potential infection.

Any type of infection following treatment for parvo can lead to death due to the weakened system of the infected dog. While some recommend non-conventional or homeopathic remedies for the treatment of parvo virus, it is crucial to understand just how quickly this disease progresses and how quickly it can kill an infected dog. Veterinarian treatment should always be sought in suspected cases of parvo.

Living and Management

Even after your dog has recovered from a CPV infection, they will still have a weakened immune system for some time, and will be susceptible to other illnesses. A high-quality, easily digestible diet is best for your dog during recovery.

Your dog will also continue to be a contagion risk to other dogs for at least two months after the initial recovery. You will need to isolate your dog from other dogs for a period of time, and you may want to tell neighbors who have dogs that they will need to have their own pets tested.

Wash all of the objects your dog uses (e.g., dishes, dog crate, dog kennel, dog toys). Machine washing is best—anything that can go into the dishwasher or washing machine and dryer should. Everything else should be deep-cleaned using a concentrated bleach solution as recommended by your veterinarian.

Recovery comes with long-term immunity against the parvovirus, but it is no guarantee that your pet will not be infected with the virus again.

Prevention of Parvo in Dogs

The best prevention you can take against CPV infection is to follow the correct protocol for vaccination. Young puppies should be vaccinated beginning at six weeks of age, with at least two vaccines after 10 weeks of age, and should not be socialized with unknown dogs until at least two weeks after their third vaccination.

High-risk breeds may require a longer initial vaccination period of up to 22 weeks. During this time, your puppy should only socialize in private areas with known dogs.

Friends and family members with healthy, fully vaccinated dogs can bring those dogs to your home, or you can bring the puppy to their home. Avoid all public areas where dogs spend time, including the dog park, dog beach, pet stores and other dog-designated areas.

Always pick up feces immediately. This is a good habit to start immediately, as it reduces environmental contamination and reduces the spread of intestinal parasites.

Parvo virus is a disease with serious consequences. Fast action by you and your veterinarian gives your dog the best prognosis for a full recovery.

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