Canine Parvovirus

ATTENTION Armadale and surrounding areas – Parvovirus is in YOUR area!

What is Canine Parvovirus?

Image result for sick puppyCanine parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that can affect all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than four months old are the most at risk. The virus affects dogs’ gastrointestinal tracts and is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated faeces, environments, or people. The virus can also contaminate kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, and the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs. It is resistant to heat, cold, humidity, and drying, and can survive in the environment for years after a dog with parvovirus has been in the area. Even trace amounts of faeces from an infected dog may harbor the virus and infect other dogs that come into the infected environment. The virus is readily transmitted from place to place on the hair or feet of dogs or via contaminated cages, shoes, or other objects.

Signs of Parvovirus

Some of the signs of parvovirus include lethargy; loss of appetite; abdominal pain and bloating; fever or low body temperature (hypothermia); vomiting; and severe, often bloody, diarrhea. Persistent vomiting and diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration, and damage to the intestines and immune system can cause septic shock.

Most deaths from parvovirus occur within 48 to 72 hours following the onset of clinical signs. If your puppy or dog shows any of these signs, you should contact us immediately.

What makes Parvovirus such a dangerous and life threatening disease?Image result for sick puppy

1. Parvo is extremely contagious – It can be spread by direct contact with an infected dog, on surfaces like grass, floors, kennels, bowls, bedding, collars, leashes, toys, and also be spread by people on their hands, shoes, and clothing.

2. There are extended periods of viral shedding with parvo – An infected dog can shed the virus in his stool for several days before symptoms appear, and for months after recovery from clinical signs, increasing the chance that other dogs might unknowingly be infected.

3. Initial signs are easily confused with simple gastro-intestinal upsets – This may cause guardians to delay treatment until the dog is dangerously ill.

4. Parvovirus is very hardy and can live in the environment for up to 7 years – The virus is resistant to heat, cold, humidity, and dryness.

5. The illness it causes is particularly severe – Parvo attacks multiple systems in the body. It destroys the inner lining of the intestine leaving the dog unable to absorb nutrients, and cripples their immune system, leaving them vulnerable to secondary infections.

6. Parvo also has a cardiac component – Although less common than the intestinal form, the cardiac form of parvo shows up in puppies under 8 weeks of age who are usually infected by a mother with parvo while they are still in the womb. The virus attacks the puppies’ hearts, leading to myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), irregular heartbeat, respiratory failure, and in almost all cases, death.

7. Parvo can cause death very quickly – It’s not unusual for a dog to go from seemingly normal to “crashing” within 48-72 hours, which is a very short window of time to seek treatment.

8. There is no cure for parvo – Supportive therapy is the only treatment available while the dog’s body recovers on its own. With hospital intensive care and treatment for usually 5-7days 60-80% of treated dogs can survive a parvovirus infection.

9. Parvo has a high mortality rate – Left untreated, the mortality rate for parvo is over 90%.

10. Parvo can cause long-term or permanent damage – If a dog survives infection, the virus can cause damage to his digestive system, making it harder for him to absorb nutrients from food. Parvo can also cause long-term kidney and/or liver damage and a weakened immune system, making the dog more susceptible to other diseases.

11. Parvo can create life-threatening complications – If the symptoms of the virus weren’t bad enough, parvo can also create a complication called “intussusception”, where the intestine telescopes in on itself and causes a bowel obstruction. This condition requires immediate corrective surgery.Image result for dog vaccinations

Preventing Canine Parvovirus

The only way to truly protect your dog against canine parvovirus is through vaccination. The vaccine is administered to puppies and adult dogs as part of a combination vaccine that also protects against several other diseases.

In puppies, we recommend three vaccinations because our pets live in a one of the highest risk areas in Australia. We advise vaccination at 6wks; 10wks then 14weeks of age. We also recommend blood titre testing at 6mths of age for all puppies to check that the vaccine has generated good levels of antibodies.

A booster vaccination is recommended at 12 months of age, with boosters every 1-3 years after that depending on veterinarian recommendations. For adult dogs, vaccines may be given less frequently if a titre test (which determines the level of antibodies against parvo present in the blood) is run and it’s determined that the dog has a sufficient level of antibodies.