The canine parvovirus (CPV) infection is a highly contagious viral illness that affects dogs. The virus manifests itself in two different forms. The more common form is the intestinal form, which is characterized by vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and lack of appetite (anorexia). The less common form is the cardiac form, which attacks the heart muscles of very young puppies, often leading to death. The majority of cases are seen in puppies that are between six weeks and six months old. The incidence of canine parvovirus infections has been reduced radically by early vaccination in young puppies.
The major symptoms associated with the intestinal form of a canine parvovirus infection include severe, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, anorexia, fever, vomiting, and severe weight loss.
The virus is transmitted either by direct contact with an infected dog, or indirectly, by the fecal-oral route. Heavy concentrations of the virus are found in an infected dog’s stool, so when a healthy dog sniffs an infected dog’s stool, it will contract the disease. The virus can also be brought into a dog's environment by way of shoes that have come into contact with infected feces. There is evidence that the virus can live in ground soil for up to a year. It is resistant to most cleaning products, or even to weather changes. The affected area would need to be washed with bleach.
Improper vaccination protocol and vaccination failure can also lead to a CPV infection. Breeding kennels and dog shelters that hold a large number of inadequately vaccinated puppies are particularly hazardous places. For unknown reasons, certain dog breeds, such as Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Pit Bulls, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, English Springer Spaniels, and Alaskan sled dogs, are particularly vulnerable to the disease. Diseases or drug therapies that suppress the normal response of the immune system may also increase the likelihood of infection.
CPV is diagnosed with a physical examination, biochemical tests, urine analysis, abdominal radiographs, and abdominal ultrasounds. A chemical blood profile and a complete blood cell count will also be performed.
The treating vet will need a thorough history of the pet's health, recent activities, and onset of symptoms. A sample of the dog's stool or vomit is also helpful in detecting the virus.
Since the disease is a viral infection, there is no real cure for it. Treatment is focused on curing the symptoms and preventing secondary bacterial infections, preferably in a hospital environment. Intravenous fluid and nutrition is crucial in maintaining a dog’s normal body fluid after severe diarrhea and dehydration, and protein and electrolyte levels will be monitored and regulated as necessary. Medications that may be used in the treatment include drugs to curb vomiting (antiemetics), H2 Blockers to reduce nausea, antibiotics, and anthelmintics to fight parasites. The survival rate in dogs is about 70 percent, but death may sometimes result from severe dehydration, a severe secondary bacterial infection, bacterial toxins in the blood, or a severe intestinal hemorrhage. Prognosis is lower for puppies, since they have a less developed immune system. It is common for a puppy that is infected with CPV to suffer shock, and sudden death.
Even after the dog has recovered from a CPV infection, it will still have a weakened immune system, and will be susceptible to other illnesses. Talk to a veterinarian about ways by which the dog's immune system can be boosted and protect the dog from situations that may make it ill. A diet that is easily digested will be best during recovery.
Dogs affected by parvo will also continue to be a contagion risk to other dogs for at least two months after the initial recovery. Isolation is a must, along with washing all objects the dog uses (e.g., dishes, crate, kennel, toys) with non-toxic cleaners. Recovery comes with long-term immunity against the parvovirus, but it is no guarantee that the pet will not be infected with the virus again.
The best prevention against CPV infection following the correct protocol for vaccination. Young puppies should be vaccinated at six, nine, and twelve weeks, and should not be socialized with outside dogs until at least two weeks after their last vaccinations. High-risk breeds may require a longer initial vaccination period of up to 22 weeks.
.MWBTR will follow all protocols and take great care to treat this precious girl. The estimated bill is around $600 to treat her. If you'd like to donate towards her care, please visit http://www.midwestbtrescue.org and click the DONATE button. All donations are tax deductible.