Canine Parvovirus (CPV) is a contagious viral disease in dogs. It can result in life-threatening illness and even the death of your dog.
The virus starts multiplying as soon as it gets inside your dog’s body. It damages the intestinal region and causes gastrointestinal ailments.
Although it is seen in adult dogs, it is more common and deadlier in the case of young dogs. The viral infection is usually worst in puppies between 6 weeks to 20 weeks of age.
The canine parvovirus also attacks neonatal pups. The result is low white blood cell counts and weakening of the heart muscles. Many newborn puppies also die due to serious cardiac ailments.
What Causes Parvovirus in Dogs?
There are two primary variants of the canine parvovirus: CPV1, known as the canine minute virus, and CPV2.
The more commonly seen variant is the CPV2. Further, the CPV2 variant has sub-variants CPV2a, CPV2b, and CPV2c.
How do Dogs Catch Parvovirus
Dogs catch parvovirus mainly through contact with feces. The canine parvovirus is contagious and can infect any animal, human, or item that comes in contact with the feces of infected animals.
The deadly virus comes with high resistance. It can survive in the environment or on the infected items for months. To make things even worse, it is immune to many cleaning products and disinfectants.
Dogs that are not vaccinated against the canine parvovirus can contract the infection from street dogs. Large concentrations of the virus are present in an infected dog’s feces. So, if your dog comes in contact with an infected dog’s feces, it’s not good news.
Most canine parvovirus infections spread because of the CPV2b variant of the virus. Dog shelters and breeding spaces are more prone to canine parvovirus. The large population of unvaccinated dogs and puppies is the primary reason. Thus, if you are bringing a newborn pup home, make sure you get it re-vaccinated.
What Are The Symptoms of Parvovirus in Dogs?
Is your dog showing any of the symptoms listed below? If yes, there is a high chance that it is suffering from parvovirus infection.
The symptoms of canine parvovirus include:
- Continuous vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of activity
- Diarrhoea with a foul odour
- Mild to high fever or hypothermia in some cases
- Abdominal pain
- Sudden weight loss
- Rapid dehydration
- Redness of the eyes
- Rapid heartbeat
If you notice any of the symptoms over a period of three to four days, visit a veterinarian immediately.
Dog breeds most vulnerable to the canine parvovirus
Research shows that dog breeds that are most vulnerable to the virus are:
- Pit Bulls
- German Shepherd
- Alaskan breed
- Doberman Pinschers
- Labrador Retrievers
- American Staffordshire Terriers
Does your pup belong to any of the breeds mentioned above? If yes, your veterinarian might recommend an extended schedule of vaccinations.
The canine parvovirus has infected your dog. Understand what’s happening during the infection!
Once the virus enters your dog’s body, you will notice the first symptom after an incubation period of 3 to 7 days. The virus starts multiplying as soon as it enters the animal’s body.
It will show its presence by infecting the tonsils and the lymph nodes in your pet’s throat.
Once the virus starts breeding in the lymph nodes, it kills the white blood cells and continues to do so for 2-3 days. They then use white blood cells to enter the bloodstream. Once the virus gains access to the bloodstream, attack the cells in the intestinal walls.
In neonatal puppies, the canine parvovirus also infects the heart. This results in swelling and weakness of the heart muscles.
The virus also attacks the bone-marrow and reduces the power of the immune system. As the virus spreads, it attacks the gastrointestinal tract where it causes greatest damage. The attack in the gastrointestinal tract results in the following:
- Severe diarrhea
- Fluid-loss from the body
- Spread of bacteria from the gut to other parts of the body
- Reduction of the ability of the dog’s intestine lining to absorb nutrients.
Prevention of the canine parvovirus – a stitch in time to save your dog
Yes, in the case of the canine parvovirus, a stitch in time can help you a great time. Make sure you abide by the vaccination schedule of your dog and do not miss any dose. The parvovirus vaccine can protect puppies and adult dogs from the parvovirus infection.
Veterinarians usually recommend combo-vaccinations for your puppies rather than individual doses. The combinations are more effective in preventing canine parvovirus. One of the most effective vaccination combinations is the “5-in-1” vaccination. It can protect your pup from 5 dog-related ailments. These include parvovirus, distemper, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, and hepatitis.
Canine parvovirus vaccination schedule
Generally, vets administer the initial dose when the puppy is 6 weeks or 8 weeks old. The booster dose follows the initial doses. Vets administer the booster dose after every 4 weeks until your puppy is 16 weeks or 20 weeks old. Vets will administer the next dose when your puppy hits the 1-year mark.
If you’re adopting an adult dog, make sure you get it revaccinated.
To make sure you’re on the right track, consult a veterinarian. Let them plan the vaccination schedule of your puppy or adult dog.
Diagnosis of the canine parvovirus
Veterinarians generally diagnose the canine parvovirus during the physical examination of the dog. But, in some cases, your puppy or dog may have to undergo a series of medical tests and analysis.
Some of the analysis that your dog may have to undergo are:
- Urine analysis of your puppy or dog
- Ultrasound of the abdomen
- Radiographs of the abdomen
Parameters that will indicate the presence of canine parvovirus in your dog’s body:
- Dehydration, especially when it accompanied by blood-stained stools
- An increase in liver enzymes
- Electrolyte imbalance in the body
- A decrease in leucocyte or Lymphopenia
- Obstruction of the intestinal tract
- Enlargement of the lymph nodes in the groin area
- Fluid-retention in different parts of the intestine
The veterinarian will also inquire about your dog’s medical history, symptoms after the onset of the viral infection, and vaccination schedule.
Treatment of the canine parvovirus
At this time, there are no medicines available to treat the canine parvovirus as it is a viral infection. The treatment consists of intensive care at home. Home treatment can cut the discomfort caused by the symptoms and improve your dog’s immunity. The better the immune system, the easier it will be for your dog to fight the viral infection.
In the case of severe infections, you may have to get your dog admitted to a veterinary hospital for immediate medical care and attention. The veterinarians will treat your dog with medicines to reduce vomiting, antibiotics to fight supplementary infections, and intravenous fluids to maintain the electrolyte balance in the body and prevent dehydration.
In several cases, treatment does not help the infected animals. So, prevention is better than cure. Make sure you get your pet vaccinated against the deadly canine parvovirus.
Survival is difficult in the case of newborn puppies. They have an underdeveloped immune system. Their body is weak immediately after they are born and is unable to fight the deadly viral disease.
Is it a good idea to treat the infected dog at home?
No, it is not a good idea to treat your dog at home as the canine parvovirus is a life-threatening infection. Home care is not enough to help your dog battle the deadly virus. Self-care can be fatal.
Sanitizing your house if you suspect that parvovirus has infected it
It is very difficult to kill parvovirus. Tt can survive in the environment for months together. If you suspect that the parvovirus has infected your surroundings, i.e., your house or yard, sanitize it. Use a solution of 1:32 bleach solution (approximately half a cup of bleach in one-gallon water). If you think that regular disinfectants or soaps will be able to help you, you’re wrong. They do not have the ability to kill the parvovirus.
Puppies and canine parvovirus
Are you planning to adopt a puppy from an animal rescue shelter or a local breeder? If yes, make sure you do not take them home unless you get them their first parvovirus vaccination.
If the breeder claims that the puppy is vaccinated, ask for proof with the vet or nurse’s signature.
A majority of dog owners are aware of the fact that the canine parvovirus is dangerous and contagious.
Now that you know everything about the parvovirus – how it spreads, symptoms, what happens inside the dog’s body during the viral outbreak, diagnosing the virus, prevention and treatment of the virus, it’s best to act before things go wrong.
Make sure you get your puppy or dog vaccinated as per the schedule provided by the vet. Well-timed puppy shots can save your dog from the deadly viral infection.
- 1 What Causes Parvovirus in Dogs?
- 2 How do Dogs Catch Parvovirus
- 3 What Are The Symptoms of Parvovirus in Dogs?
- 4 Dog breeds most vulnerable to the canine parvovirus
- 5 Diagnosis of the canine parvovirus
- 6 Treatment of the canine parvovirus
- 7 Is it a good idea to treat the infected dog at home?
- 8 Conclusion