Dogs

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Parvovirus

Parvovirus (CPV) causes vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs and is unfortunately often fatal in unvaccinated animals.

The severity and survival rate of the disease is variable. The virus attacks fast growing tissues, so pups less than 6 months of age are especially susceptible.

Infection occurs through contact with contaminated faeces, with incubation time (from encountering the virus to developing the disease) usually 3 to 7 days.

Infected dogs excrete the virus in their faeces for approximately 2 weeks post infection but the virus can remain in the environment for years.

Clinical Signs

Most dogs will present with sudden onset bloody diarrhoea and/or vomiting. They will usually have weakness, fever and decreased appetite, and may collapse suddenly.

Their increased fluid loss from vomit and diarrhoea, combined with minimal or no intake causes dehydration which is often life-threatening. Further deterioration leads to toxic shock and possibly death.

In some dogs, inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) can cause sudden death.

Treatment

Unfortunately there is no drug available to cure the disease and treatment is supportive, keeping the patient alive and comfortable and able to fight the disease.

Treatment includes

-       Intravenous fluids to correct dehydration and electrolyte imbalance

-       Anti-emetics to reduce or prevent further vomiting

-       Antibiotics to combat secondary infection via a leaky gut wall

-       Pain-killers

In some animals hyper-immunised serum may help fight the disease.

Prognosis

In unvaccinated animals, particularly pups, prognosis is guarded, and hospitalisation for over a week may be needed. In vaccinated animals prognosis is very good, with most animals suffering far more mild symptoms.

By far the best course of action is prevention, with a standard vaccination course as described in our vaccination article. Sadly vaccinations cannot help dogs already suffering from CPV.

Do not allow your pup the risk of exposure to CPV until they are fully vaccinated and maintain regular annual boosters.

At Acorn we would advise you to only obtain dogs from a safe source where previous history and vaccination status are known, such as adoption organisations. Many pups from pet-shops will have contracted CPV, and other diseases prior to purchase, due to incomplete vaccinations and mixing with potentially infected animals.