Parvovirus is a word that strikes fear into the heart of every dog owner, but many people don’t actually know how to recognise the signs, how it is spread or what to do if you think your dog may have contracted it. So, here’s a brief overview to help make sense of what is a very serious disease for our furry friends.
Canine Parvovirus is an incredibly contagious disease. Some cells in the body reproduce rapidly and it is these type of cells that the virus tends to attack – cells such as those lining the gastrointestinal tract.
Once the dog is infected, the virus is deposited in the poo for up to several weeks.
The disease is transmitted by oral contact with infected faeces but it can be carried on the dog’s hair and feet, as well as on contaminated crates, shoes, and other objects.
When the dog licks the faecal material off hair, feet, or anything that came in contact with infected faeces, he acquires the disease.
The illness usually starts to show itself some 4-5 days after contamination.
Signs of Parvovirus include:-
Diarrhoea (which is profuse and contains blood/mucus)
There is sometimes, but not always, a high fever
Puppies with severe abdominal pain exhibit a “tucked-up” abdomen
Dog owners should suspect Parvovirus in all pups if they develop suddent vomiting and diarrhoea and contact their emergency vet straight away.
Hospitalisation for intensive veterinary management.
Correction of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance (may take 3-5 days).
Introvenous fluids/medication to control vomiting and diarrhoea.
More severe cases may require blood plasma transfusions and other intensive care.
Antibiotics will be given to prevent septicaemia and other bacterial complications.
Puppies and dogs should not eat or drink until the vomiting has stopped. They do, however, still need fluid support during that time and this is one of the main reasons for the need to hospitalise the animal.
Many factors play a role in the final outcome such as which strain of Parvovirus has been contracted, the age of the dog, its immune status and how quickly diagnosis and treatment was administered.
With good veterinary care, most puppies will recover without complications.
Because Parvovirus is extremely resistant to most cleaning products and can in fact survive for months on crates, floors and other surfaces in general, it is advised to thoroughly clean and disinfect the quarters of infected animals with household bleach in a 1:32 dilution. The bleach must be left on the contaminated surface for 20 minutes before being rinsed.
N.B. Jeyes Fluid is often what people think of when cleaning contaminated areas. Please be aware that if the dog walks on it before it is dry, it is very dangerous as it absorbs through the surface of the pads and can actually poison your dog. Please always ensure you rinse the area and dry it thoroughly before any animal is allowed to walk on the surface, whatever you choose to use.
One of our Facebook followers, Mandy Tee, wrote the following comments on 13 April, 2014. She raises a very good point regarding home nursing for those people who cannot afford the financial burden of treating Parvo. This is what she had to say and I do think her comments are worth consideration
Mandy: This is great information 🙂 99% of dogs (figures where I live) with Parvovirus are killed for financial reasons tho (they don’t die from Parvo) – refusal of intensive treatment quite simply due to cost. Some people call financial kills euthanasia. As a vet nurse, I’m really clear what is financial and what is simply mercy. I think it’s important to differentiate when it comes to Parvo. Quite simply because we need to know the truth about treating this viral disease. With that in mind, my thought is that it would be good to include home supportive treatments in there. Intensive home nursing and alternatives to many expensive drugs, can actually be successful. Every situation is different, but if the animal guardian notices quickly enough, home nursing can see successful recovery and lifelong immunity. Tricky stuff to get into in a blog perhaps, but even an allusion to commitments to home nursing might be useful for many people who, upon diagnosis, cannot afford intensive and emergency veterinary treatment? So few conventional vets even give people that option when money is the only barrier even with early diagnosis. People don’t know there sometimes is another reasonable option. Sometimes this option is not reasonable, but with early diagnosis and adult dogs, even (relatively) inexpensive straight IV fluids in hospital for 8hrs can get the patient in the right state for continuing intensive home nursing and care. So many poor dog owners are told the options are to treat intensively/in hospital for thousands (or hundreds if it’s ‘half arsed drug therapy’ and without intensive nursing – costs do indicate quality of treatment in this case), or kill the dog – very black and white unfortunately and it simply isn’t true 🙁 Most cases of Parvovirus these days is a severe infectious haemorrhagic gastro enteritis disease. There is A LOT we can do at home.
People do need to seek Vet diagnosis, but they do need options when options are reasonable and needed I will write something here in the group for starters when I can, because I know there may be other people who can contribute their experience and knowledge in successfully treating Parvo and other equally severe infectious haemorrhagic gastro enteritis (HGE) disease too Pet owners never seem to hear about dogs dying from HGE which isn’t Parvo (confirmed), and which is equally infectious and equally related to financial issues
hi madam may you please share what is alternative to curing this parvovirus?. my puppy died from it and the others shown the symptoms of parvo. hospitalization here in Philippines was to expensive and me as a student cant afford it.may you please help me with this it will really appreciated my puppy are 3 labrador 3months old this may 11, 2015.. thank you.