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Canine ParvoVirus - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

20 Aug 2014 | by Neha Manchanda | Posted in: Wag News

Parv o virusThe Canine Parvovirus type 2 infection, also called Parvo is an acute and highly contagious viral disease that affects dogs. Parvovirus is acute as it has the tendency to attack the gastrointestinal tract. In young puppies, the virus may attack the white blood cells and the heart muscle and may cause lifelong cardiac issues.  The virus may spread to other mammals such as cats, however, it does not infect humans.

Parvo Virus Types:

The Canine Parvovirus may be classified in two different forms:

  • Intestinal form: The intestinal form of infection is the most common one seen amongst dogs. It severely affects the metabolism and the ability of the body to absorb nutrients and fluids. 
  • Cardiac form: The cardiac form is a less common form of viral infection that affects the dogs, especially very young puppies.  The virus affects the heart muscle and may or may not lead to a full recovery.

Parvo Causes:

There are various factors that can increase a dog’s susceptibility to the disease. The three main ways that the virus can be transmitted are either by direct contact with the infected pup or through oral contact with infected faeces or lack of vaccination against the virus.

The stool of the infected dog is a carrier of the virus. The virus is found in large amounts in the stool of dogs with acute infection, so when a healthy pup sniffs or comes in contact with the infected stool, he / she can contract the disease.

Improper vaccination or lack of vaccination can also result in CPV infection. Many a times puppies in kennels or at breeders are not vaccinated on time and thus become susceptible to the infection.

Parvo Symptoms:

Following an incubation period which lasts four - five days, the major symptoms that are associated with Canine Parvovirus include severe bloody diarrhea, lethargy, anorexia, fever, nausea and vomiting and severe weight loss. As a result, your dog will become dehydrated and weak. The lining of the mouth i.e. the wet tissue of your dogs mouth and eyes will become red and the heart rate will be rapid than usual. On touching the abdominal area, your dog may experience pain or discomfort.

Parvo Diagnosis:

Parvovirus infection is a serious one and the pup should be immediately taken to a vet. The vet will be able to diagnose the infection through physical examination, blood and urine tests and ultrasounds. In case of an infection, the test results will show low white blood cells, elevated liver enzymes, electrolyte imbalances and enlarged lymph nodes especially in groin region. It will be important to keep a thorough history of your dog’s health especially after the onset of symptoms for correct diagnosis.

Parvo Treatment

Once the infection has been diagnosed, it will be vital to cure the symptoms and reduce the chances of bacterial infections. Intensive therapy especially intravenous fluids and nutrition will be required to maintain the electrolyte balance especially after the onset of diarrhea and vomiting. Antibiotics and medications will be administered to avoid infections and internal hemorrhage.

Management Post Recovery

Once your dog has recovered from the infection, it will be important to be extremely careful with the nutrition and health of the dog. As the infection is so severe, your dog will have  low and weak immune system and will be susceptible to other illness. proper nutritional diet and dog supplements will have to be included in the meals to boost the immune system. Also care has to be taken that the belongings of your dog are cleaned with a strong disinfectant and cleanliness is maintained to avoid a relapse of the infection.

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