Parvovirus- This virus was first noted
in the early 1980s when it appeared in epidemic proportions in the
US. Because of the speedy development of an effective vaccine, parvovirus
is now manageable. Without immunization, an afflicted animal's intestinal
tract is attacked by the virus resulting in symptoms of vomiting,
diarrhea, bleeding and collapse. Prompt veterinary care is essential
to recovery but there is a great likelihood of death.
Canine parvo virus (CPV) is a serious and highly contagious disease
that is a major killer of puppies as well as unprotected older dogs.
Canine parvovirus (CPV) is the most dangerous and contagious virus
that affects unprotected dogs. When it was first discovered in 1978,
most of the puppies under five months old and 2% to 3% of older
dogs died from CPV. But subsequently a parvo vaccine has helped
control its spread, and CPV infection is now considered most threatening
to puppies between the time of weaning and six months of age. Adult
dogs can also contract the virus, although it's relatively uncommon.
All breeds of dog can be infected, but Rottweilers and Doberman
Pinschers are more susceptible and have less chance of recovering.
CPV affects only dogs, and cannot be transmitted to humans or
other species. However, other animals and humans can carry it
to dogs. Dogs who become infected have a 50-50 chance of survival.
If they survive the first four days, they will usually recover
rapidly, and become immune to the virus for life. Most puppies
will die without medical treatment.
The source of CPV infection is fecal waste from infected dogs.
It has been diagnosed anywhere groups of dogs are found: dog shows,
obedience trials, breeding and boarding kennels, pet shops, animal
shelters, parks, and playgrounds. Dogs that spend their time confined
to a house or yard and are not in contact with other dogs have
much less chance of exposure to CPV. It's easily transmitted via
the hair or feet of infected dogs, and also by contaminated objects
such as cages or shoes. CPV is hardy and can remain in feces-contaminated
ground for five months or more if conditions are favorable. Although
most disinfectants cannot kill it, chlorine bleach is quite effective.
There may be other means of transmission of CPV, but they are
not known at this time.
Two forms of CPV have been identified: diarrhea syndrome and cardiac
Diarrhea syndrome, or enteritis, has an incubation period of five
to fourteen days. Dogs with enteritis act like they are in extreme
pain. Early symptoms are depression, loss of appetite, vomiting,
high fever, and severe diarrhea. Feces can be either grayish or
fluid and bloody. Rapid dehydration is a danger, and dogs may
continue to vomit and have diarrhea until they die, usually three
days after onset of symptoms. Others may recover without complications
and have no long-term problems. Puppies can die suddenly of shock
as early as two days into the illness.
The second form of CPV is cardiac syndrome, or myocarditis, which
can affect puppies under three months old. There is no diarrhea
because the virus multiplies rapidly in muscle cells of the immature
heart. Puppies may stop suckling and then collapse and die within
minutes or days. No effective treatment is available for cardiac
syndrome, and surviving puppies may have permanently damaged hearts.
The initial diagnosis of CPV can usually be made by a veterinarian
after observing the dog's symptoms; however, vomiting and diarrhea
can be caused by a number of diseases. The rapid spread of illness
in a group of dogs is another indication that CPV may be the culprit.
A more definitive diagnosis of CPV can be made by testing feces
for the virus, either at the veterinarian's office or through
an outside laboratory.
Treatment for CPV should be started immediately. Hospitalization
is necessary, except in relatively mild cases. Dogs must be kept
warm. Dehydration is treated by replacing electrolytes and fluids
and controlling vomiting and diarrhea. Antibiotics are used to
prevent secondary infections. No drug is yet available that will
kill the virus.
The easiest way to prevent CPV in adult dogs has been through
annual vaccinations, although increasingly, veterinarians are
recommending that vaccinations be administered every three years.
Puppies need a series of booster shots, because of uncertainty
about when maternal immunity wanes and the time the vaccine can
provide puppies with their own immunity. This may be as early
as six weeks of age or as late as fourteen weeks of age. If there
is still a high level of maternal antibody present in the puppy,
it will interfere with a vaccination. Veterinarians recommend
that puppies get boosters every three weeks until they are sixteen
weeks old, and they should be kept separate from unvaccinated
dogs. Vaccinations given to puppies as well as adults also protect
against other serious canine diseases like distemper, infectious
hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, and coronavirus.
Parvo vaccinations are usually required for participation in puppy
obedience classes and for boarding your dog at kennels. A vaccination
does not guarantee that your puppy will be safe from the virus,
but it's good protective insurance.
A parvo-infected dog can shed the virus in his feces, which makes
him extremely contagious to other dogs. The following precautions
will help prevent the spread of this disease.
· Keep the dog isolated from all other dogs for at least
a month after recovery.
· Pick up all the dog's stools in your yard.
· Use chlorine bleach and water to clean food and water
bowls. Wash the dog's bedding in bleach and hot water. Disinfect
all areas that the dog has been in, including linoleum floors,
· If you have any other dogs who are two years old or
younger, or who have not had parvo vaccinations, take them to
your veterinarian immediately for a booster shot.
· Feed your dog a bland diet until he recovers. Reintroduce
regular food slowly.
A healthy puppy or adult dog should never be allowed contact with
the feces of other dogs when walking or playing in public. Dispose
of waste material properly and try to keep lawns, sidewalks, and
street gutters clear of feces from neighborhood dogs.