Parvo is a particularly nasty virus that affects the gut and bone marrow of affected dogs and can be fatal. It lasts a long time in the environment – months, and only certain disinfectants kill it when cleaning out kennels (we use Sterigene, Vircon or bleach).
Dogs become infected by ingesting virus shed from an infected dog where there is contamination with faecal material. The toughness of the virus means that sometimes it can travel between properties on boots or other gear. Some infected dogs may survive parvo but remain virus shedders which can cause future problems.
Signs of Parvo virus
Severity of illness in an infected dog will depend on the number of invading virus particles and the strength of their immune system, however symptoms include:
- High fever
- Diarrhea (often containing blood)
- Lack of appetite
Parvovirus treatment in dogs
Dogs who develop parvovirus have a good chance of survival with supportive treatment; immediate veterinary care will greatly increase your puppy’s chance of fighting the virus. If you see any signs of Parvo Virus you should contact your local clinic immediately; itt is vital to provide your veterinarian with a detailed history including vaccination status, current and previous environment, and contact with other potentially infected dogs. A veterinarian will perform a nose-to-tail physical examination and will likely recommend aggressive supportive care and monitoring in the hospital for several days that may include:
- Intravenous fluid (IV) therapy to treat dehydration
- IV antibiotics to fight against secondary infections, especially in the GI tract
- Medication to control nausea and vomiting
- Pain medication
- Blood work to monitor white and red blood cell counts and overall organ function
Unfortunately there is no cure for Parvovirus, so our treatments are designed to help support the body to allow it the best chance to fight the infection internally. Due to the damage to the immune system and the intestine there is an increased risk of secondary infection, so the vet may choose to place your puppy on antibiotics to treat any secondary issues. If left untreated there is a 90% of death; however, with treatment there is an 85% chance of survival.
Parvo vaccine is an extremely effective preventative. Most pups receive up to three pup shots starting from six weeks of age, a yearly booster, then adults are done every three years. It can take up to two weeks for antibodies to reach their potential from when a pup is fully vaccinated, this means if you are bringing new pups on farm, or selling them off make sure they have had a first vaccination two weeks before going to a new home.