We are on the edge of Spring, and Parvovirus is already flourishing. I have seen over 10 cases in the past 3 weeks. Parvo is a virus that invades the cells that line the intestine; thelymphatic system can also be affected. Symptoms typically include weakness, low energy, low appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, secondary dehydration, and possible shock. Often the excrement will have a fetid, foul odor and may have blood. The disease progresses very quickly, and can easily result in death.
This illness is more common in puppies age 3-10 months because of their poor immune systems. It can also affect adult dogs that have not received complete vaccinations or those that are immuno-compromised; but this is not the common scenario. Usually the disease is diagnosed in young dogs that have either never received any vaccinations, or have been given an incomplete series of inoculations. Certain breeds such as Pitt Bulls, Rottweilers, and Doberman Pinchers have more difficulty fighting this illness; but any breed of dog can be affected.
Parvo is spread in a fecal-oral transmission pattern. This means that it is passed when a puppy ingests poop from another dog that is sick with Parvo. If a canine walks through an area that contains Parvo infected feces, and then licks its feet, that dog can contract Parvo. It is thought that even flies can transmit Parvo, traveling from infected feces, and then landing on your pet's face. It can also be passed on shoes and clothing. It takes 7-10 days from exposure for symptoms to begin.
The Parvo virus is diagnosed by a simple in-house Elisa test. All that is needed is a swab sample from your puppy's hind end. Results are available in minutes. A patient that has Parvo will test positive within 10-20 days of exposure; but there can be a lag time between showing symptoms and a confirmed positive test result. It is usually recommended to treat any patient young canine for Parvo that has typical symptoms, even without a positive test. Additional testing may be suggested in a patient with symptoms and a negative test.
Any puppy suspected of having Parvo needs immediate veterinary care. Ideally any patient with this illness should be hospitalized on IVs with antibiotics and given other supportive care. These patients may have a low body temperature. In addition to warming, they also will receive medications to control vomiting, decrease acid production, and reduce pain. The average hospital stay is 2-5 days. Some patients may require blood transfusions or plasma. Even with treatment some canines do not survive.
Outpatient care is not the optimal treatment plan; but sometimes this is the only option due to financial constraints. The owner will syringe small amounts of Pedialyte or other liquids every 1-2 hours around the clock to help prevent dehydration. In this scenario the canine should have daily rechecks. Injectible medications are given every 24 hours to provide antibiotics, fluid therapy, and additional treatment as needed until the patient is able to keep down food and oral therapies.
Recovering patients will receive a bland easily digestible diet, and then slowly transition to normal food over 1-2 weeks. Oral antibiotics are usually given for 7-10 days. Once your canine is stronger, vaccines will be recommended. It is thought that a puppy who has recovered from Parvo, has immunity; but, there are other important illnesses that innoculation can provide protection against.
Disinfect any surfaces that you can where your companion has been with a 10% bleach solution. Parvo can stay in the ground for several months to years, and there is no proven way to disinfect your yard. As a result, plan to not introduce any new puppies into your household for several years.
Don't let your cherished companion become a victim of Parvo. To protect your buddy from this miserable illness begin veterinary visits and initial vaccinations at 6-8 weeks. Vaccinations should be repeated every 3 weeks for a series of four inoculations. This is the standard protocol recommended by UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Keep puppies primarily indoors until they have received at least 3 vaccines. Your veterinarian can establish a vaccination protocol based on the lifestyle of your canine