In 1978 a new epidemic became widespread in the United States. This was an intestinal virus called Parvovirus and affected dogs, especially puppies, and was highly contagious. Parvovirus is still affecting puppies today but not in such great numbers as before because of vaccinations for the Canine Parvo virus.
The Parvovirus is an intestinal virus that causes signs such as: diarrhea frequently hemorrhagic, vomiting, depression, anorexia, and rapidly progressing dehydration in puppies 8-20 weeks. Certain breeds of dogs are at higher risk for infection and susceptible to a more severe form of the disease. These breeds include Rottweilers, Doberman Pinchers and the Pit Bull Terrier. For a more complete list of dogs which are often affected by parvovirus, read this article.
Transmission of Parvovirus occurs by fecal-oral route and is shed in the feces of infected dogs. Because the virus can survive and remain infectious in the environment for months to years, environmental contamination plays a major role in its transmission.
Treatment for puppies suffering from “Parvo” is available, but variable in outcome and prevention. Therefore, vaccination is the best protection. There is no medicine to rid the body of the virus, so treatment consists of supported care until the body rids itself of the virus. Puppies with Parvo die from dehydration, overwhelming bacterial infection, and electrolyte imbalances, secondarily from vomiting and diarrhea.
The Canine Parvovirus (CPV) can be diagnosed with an in-house test which detects viral antigens shed in feces and is widely available in most veterinary hospitals.
If a puppy’s mother has been vaccinated for CPV, that puppy has antibodies from the milk up until about 6-8 weeks of age and helps to protect himself or herself from the virus. Because the age at which pups can respond to vaccines for CPV is unpredictable, the most effective protocols use a series of vaccinations. This usually begins at 6-8 weeks of age and revaccinate (booster) every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks. Susceptible breeds may be vaccinated until 18-20 weeks. Any unvaccinated dog over 16 weeks should have a series of two vaccines 3-4 weeks apart, then annually depending upon the life style of adult dogs.
Because CPV is ubiquitous, stable outside of the animal, and easily transmitted, prevention of exposure is impossible. Once you obtain a puppy or adult dog make sure you have a detailed vaccine history. This should include information of where the vaccines were purchased and how often they were administered. Such examples are from a feed store, if the breeder vaccinated themselves, from an animal shelter, humane society, or from a veterinarian’s office. Once you have this information visit your veterinarian with your new canine friend as soon as possible. For more information on how parvovirus can be spread to your pet, then read the guides at petnailexpert.com.