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Canine Parvo: Prevention, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment of Parvo in Dogs

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Canine parvo or parvo in dogs is a common but dangerous viral disease. It mainly affects unvaccinated puppies between the ages of 6 and 20 weeks. However, canine parvovirus may also affect adult dogs who have not received their parvo vaccine or missed a booster.

Canine Parvo Vaccine for Prevention

Canine parvovirus (CP) is highly contagious. That means if one puppy is infected with canine parvo in a multi-dog household, other unvaccinated puppies and dogs are also at risk. 

What causes canine parvo disease?

Canine parvovirus or canine parvo is a result of the canine parvovirus type 2 (CPV) infection. Every unvaccinated dog, irrespective of their breed, is capable of becoming infected by parvo. 

CPV outbreaks are still quite common. The lack of options to get puppies vaccinated and dogs boostered during the COVID-19 pandemic caused a sudden spike in parvo cases across the globe. 

The outbreaks are common and keep occurring throughout the year. So, vaccinating your dog or puppy against canine parvovirus is a must.  If your pup’s vaccines aren’t up-to-date, visit the Vetic pet hospital near you and ask about puppy vaccination schedules. 

How does canine parvo spread?

Canine parvovirus can spread via –

  • Direct dog-to-dog contact
  • Dog’s contact with contaminated stool 
  • Contaminated surfaces that contain the viruses
  • People who have come in touch with infected dogs (unwashed hands and clothes)
  • Contaminated food and water bowls
  • Infected leashes, collars and other accessories

Thankfully, it is not an airborne virus. You have to clean the floor, furniture, furnishing, clothes, and your dog’s accessories thoroughly if they have tested positive for canine parvovirus. Cuddling or handling other dogs, after touching a CPV-positive dog can cause further spread of the disease. 

If you believe your dog or pup has been exposed to CPV, visit the nearest Vetic dog hospital and request a parvo test. All emergency vet hospitals have parvo testing kits and other tests that can detect CPV.

Most importantly, CPV Type 2 only affects dogs and other canids. It is completely different from the Parvovirus B19 strain that affects humans. Parvovirus B19 only infects humans and cannot be transmitted to dogs or cats. 

What are the symptoms of canine parvo? 

Infographic titled "What is Parvo?" It states the symptoms of canine parvovirus infection that include lethargy, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea and blood in stool. and possible treatments for parvo in dogs including fluid therapy and systemic support.

Canine parvo symptoms are easy to observe in puppies as well as adult dogs. The parvo symptoms include –

  • Lethargy
  • Depression 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea
  • Blood in stool 

Fever is not a common symptom among all parvo cases. Some dogs come down with a sudden high fever after contracting parvo. 

In case your pup is showing more than one of these symptoms, rush them to the Vetic emergency dog hospital near you for immediate treatment. Quick action can stop the spread of the disease.

Canine Parvo Diagnosis: Tests for canine parvovirus diagnosis 

IV treatment for canine parvo

Today, most veterinary clinics, including Vetic pet clinic, have handy kits for instant parvo tests. These kits use faecal samples and rapid antigen test technology. Most of these kits are reliable. Nonetheless, they may show false negative results when your dog is not shedding the viruses through their faeces. 

In such cases, the veterinarian may recommend a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test. It is more sensitive than a RAPID kit and even ELISA. PCR can detect the CPV viral particles (DNA) that are highly specific to canine parvovirus type 2. 

The vet will also recommend a complete blood count. One of the biggest indicators of CPV is the sudden decrease in the level of white blood cells (leukopenia). The viruses attack the bone marrow and reduce the production of WBCs drastically. 

A combination of a positive CPV faecal test on PCR and a low WBC count is often a confirmed canine parvo diagnosis. 

What is the treatment for Canine Parvo?

Canine parvo can be deadly if proper treatment is not provided at the right time. 

There is currently no antiviral therapy that works for every dog suffering from parvo. So, parvo treatment mostly consists of supportive care, symptomatic treatment, and management of overall health. 

One of the biggest challenges posed by parvo is dehydration. The first line of treatment always includes minimizing the fluid loss and rehydrating the pupper. All oral drinks and foods are stopped during treatment. So, all the fluids are given intravenously or subcutaneously, depending upon the age of the puppy. 

That makes treating parvo at home quite challenging. Almost all the medication in the initial phases of the treatment should go via an intravenous, intramuscular or subcutaneous route. 

Your puppy may require antiemetics and antacids to reduce their discomfort. They will also require antibiotics to minimize the chance of secondary bacterial infections. 

They will need to be isolated and kept under constant observation. In-patient care with an isolation treatment area for parvo is the ideal choice for new pet parents. These places have the proper testing methods, IV fluid pumps, standard medicines and emergency medications. These facilities are typically unavailable even in the most caring homes. 

Check out Vetic at Sector 45. It has 24/7 in-patient facilities with vets present around the clock. So, even if your pooch begins showing signs of parvo at 2 am, you can find all the answers at Vetic. 

What happens during parvo infection? Why is canine parvo dangerous?

The canine parvovirus has an incubation period of about a week. So, an infected dog or puppy won’t show immediate symptoms. 

The viruses require rapidly dividing cells inside the puppy’s body. Once it’s done attacking the tonsils and lymph nodes, it moves to the lymphocytes. They piggyback on the lymphocytes to spread throughout the pupper’s bloodstream. 

Once in the bloodstream, the canine parvoviruses target the bone marrow and small intestine. It reduces the WBC count and causes significant gastrointestinal distress. Rapidly multiplying viral cells prevent the replacement of the cells on the small intestine wall. It leads to bacterial infections as well. 

That’s the main reason most infected dogs begin throwing up and pooping blood. That is also the main reason you should never give oral medicines, oral rehydration solutions and food to a dog with parvo. The intake of food and fluids will further disturb the small intestine (SI) lining and worsen the SI wall integrity.

For very young pups, CPV can also affect the heart muscles causing arrhythmias. 

Canine parvovirus can become dangerous and even deadly if it’s not treated on time. To know about the standardized protocol(s) for canine parvo treatment contact or visit Vetic

CPV Prevention Tips: How can I save my dog from canine parvo? 

Infographic titled "Preventing Canine Parvo". It lists 3 steps - vaccinate against canine parvo, isolate and decontaminate. Vaccination includes 2 points - a series of vaccines for all puppies starting between 6 and 8 weeks of age, and annual boosters for all dogs are available for canine parvo and other deadly viral infections. Isolation includes 2 points - quarantining the infected dog and keeping the pup in isolation until the fecal test for parvo in dogs comes out negative. Decontamination includes 2 steps as well - sanitisation of all surfaces using the right products and disinfecting 3 times daily until the full recovery of the pup.

Prevention of canine parvo is much easier and more economical than treating the disease.

Your puppy should receive their first CPV vaccine as a part of their combination vaccine that includes canine distemper virus (CDV), canine parainfluenza type 2 virus, infectious canine hepatitis and leptospirosis. One shot is not enough to prevent these infections. Your puppy will require multiple shots up until 16 weeks of age. 

Here are a few tips to protect your puppy from canine parvo –

  • The only way to ensure that your puppy doesn’t contract CPV is by following the standard vaccination protocol. 
  • Do not forget to give yearly boosters to your dog to protect them from CPV infection. 
  • Do not take puppies younger than 120 days, who haven’t received their Puppy DP, DHPPiL Vaccine and booster outside. 
  • Do not let strangers cuddle your unvaccinated puppy.   

Do not leave your puppy in any in-patient care where they do not isolate suspected canine parvo infections.

Never miss another vaccine or booster! Upload your pupper’s prescription and vaccine dates on the Vetic app for timely reminders. Download the Vetic App right here. 

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