Keeping your dog healthy is undoubtedly one of your biggest priorities as a caring and responsible owner. While there are many different medical problems that could affect your canine companion, there are a range of preventative treatments that can protect your pet from unnecessary illness and suffering. Nevertheless, there are cases whereby a pet has either not been protected at all or has missed an appointment in their schedule of preventative care and is therefore vulnerable to infection and disease.
One of the most contagious conditions affecting dogs in the U.S. is Canine Parvovirus, more commonly known as a CPV infection or Parvo. Parvo is a viral infection that can manifest itself in two different forms – intestinal, which is the most common, and cardiac. Cardiac Parvo almost exclusively affects very young puppies who haven’t been vaccinated early enough.
Parvo is a highly infectious virus that in intestinal form attacks the cells in your dogs’ intestines and stops them from being able to absorb the vital nutrients that he needs to stay healthy. Without these nutrients, your dog will quickly become dehydrated and weak and malnourished.
It is important to understand that there is no real cure for Parvo, since it is a viral infection. Instead, treatment tends to be based around alleviating the symptoms of the condition and preventing any secondary bacterial infections from occurring.
Parvo is extremely dangerous and most deaths from the disease will happen within 72 hours after the symptoms begin. Therefore, if you suspect that your furbaby may have parvo, you should seek emergency veterinary advice. The survival rate for adult dogs is around 70%. This is much lower for puppies, whose immune system is still developing. However, the sooner you get professional veterinary attention, the more likely it is that your pet will survive.
The symptoms of an intestinal Parvo infection include:
Parvo is highly contagious and can be transmitted in two ways. The most common method of contracting Parvo is by direct contact with feces from an infected animal. This happens very easily since dogs tend to sniff and lick everything that they come across.
The second method of transmission is through indirect contact. This could include coming into contact with a contaminated person, object or environment.
Once Parvo is out in the open, it is very resilient which increases the risk to your pet. An area that has previously been contaminated with feces (even if there are no feces now), could still pose a potential risk to your furbaby. This is because the Parvo virus can live in ground soil for up to a year and can be tracked into different environments on people’s shoes.
Parvo can also survive in your home environment for as long as two months and is resistant to most commonly used cleaning products and disinfectants. For this reason, if you believe that Parvo may have found its way into your home, you should thoroughly clean the areas that may be affected with bleach. Bleach is one of the few household cleaning products known to be able to eradicate Canine Parvovirus.
The best way to protect your canine companion from Parvo is to ensure that he is vaccinated against the disease, and that all boosters are administered on time. The initial shots should be given when puppies are 6-8 weeks of age, then again at 10-12 weeks and 14-16 weeks of age. After this, a booster is administered 12 months later, and follow up vaccines are 3-yearly.
It is important to remember that a new puppy is not fully vaccinated against Parvo until he has had all three of the initial shots, and so during this time, you should limit who he comes into contact with and where he goes. This will minimize his risk of developing the condition.
For more information on Canine Parvovirus, or to check whether your furbaby is up to date with his vaccinations and fully protected from this potentially fatal disease, call our Veterinary Medical Clinic today at 575-567-3500.