Puppies & Parvovirus! – H&S Pets Galore
What You Need To Know About Puppies With Parvovirus!
Puppies & parvo can make a lethal combination. Hence, no pet owner wants to hear that their puppy has been diagnosed with parvo. If you are a new pet owner you must be wondering what is parvo or parvovirus. The canine parvovirus is responsible for one of the most serious canine diseases. It is a highly contagious viral disease that attacks mainly the stomach and small intestines. It can spread through direct contact with an infected dog’s feces (that is through sniffing, licking, touching), or via indirect contact with contaminated surfaces, toys, people who have handled an infected dog etc. Puppies between the ages of 6 & 20 weeks are at the highest risk of contracting parvo, and once your puppy contracts parvo the incubation period is between 3 & 7 days, after which symptoms show up. Unfortunately, as there is no treatment this can be fatal. Having said that parvo can also attack older dogs. The CPV2 or canine parvovirus type 2 is a tough virus as it can survive without a host for months & can be resistant to cleaning solutions/products, apart from that it is constantly being shed by an infected dog hence disinfecting the place can prove difficult. It attacks the gastrointestinal tract as well as the bone marrow of the infected dog and suppresses the white cell count, weakening your dog’s immunity, making it susceptible to other infections. In puppies it is also known to attack the heart, hence this deadly virus can easily claim the lives of little puppies.
Signs & Symptoms-
A puppy or dog with parvovirus will present looking extremely unwell, lethargic & weak. Apart from looking very sick, he/she may also have the following:
1. Bloody Diarrhoea- Severe diarrheoa with blood is a typical presentation
4. Temperature- A sick pup with parvo may present with high or low temperatures.
5. Loss Of Appetite- Your puppy won’t be eating or refusing to eat.
6. Dehydration- A puppy throwing up with diarrhoea and loss of appetite can quickly get dehydrated.
7. Weight loss- The combination of diarrheoa, vomiting & loss of appetite can result in weight loss.
Diagnosis & Treatment-
When you have a sick pup in hand, it’s always advisable to immediately contact your vet. Your vet will then come with the diagnosis of Parvo based on clinical signs & symptoms, along with examination & blood & other lab tests. A test known as ELISA may be requested which basically checks for the virus antigen in the stool of your puppy. Once a diagnosis is determined knowing that there is no actual treatment to cure parvo, your vet will suggest supportive care to treat the symptoms, keep your puppy hydrated and healthy. Keeping in mind your puppy’s immune system could be weakened, and he/she could be susceptible to other infections, your puppy may also be started on a broadspectrum antibiotic to fight off any secondary bacterial infections that could have occurred. With aggressive support and early treatment targeted at keeping the puppy alive and healthy, your puppy has a good chance to make it. However, if your puppy survives then he/she has lifelong immunity against the strain they were infected with.
Knowing how deadly this disease can be, prevention is better than cure & the good news is that parvovirus is 100% preventable through a series of vaccinations and an annual booster. Your puppy will be given the first dose at around 6-8 weeks, followed by a booster at 10-12 weeks, & then another at 14-16 weeks. By the age of 6 months+, your dog should be receiving an annual booster. If you have adopted a puppy and are not sure about the age or vaccination status always talk to a vet. It is also advisable to keep your puppy that is 16 weeks or lesser, safe at home, away from places, and dogs that could be contaminated as they are vulnerable to contracting parvo until they get all their 3 vaccination shots.
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