Canine parvovirus, commonly referred to as parvo, is extremely contagious and primarily impacts dogs who have not been properly vaccinated or are only partially vaccinated. Puppies are particularly vulnerable to this virus. The prominent symptoms of parvovirus involve the gastrointestinal system, resulting in symptoms like listlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, and a loss of appetite.
Note: Canine parvovirus is not transmissible from dogs to humans.
What are the Effects of Parvovirus?
Parvovirus targets the lining of the small intestine, causing profound symptoms such as intense vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Severe cases of parvovirus can lead to extreme dehydration, shock and even death.
The damage inflicted by parvovirus on the intestinal lining and bone marrow exacerbates the severity of the disease. In some instances, parvovirus can affect the heart, resulting in inflammation, which is typically fatal in dogs.
How is Parvovirus Transmitted to Dogs?
Parvovirus is exceptionally contagious and can remain in the environment for extended periods. Dogs can inadvertently pick up the virus on their paws or via contamination of items of clothing. Parvovirus is excreted in the faeces of infected animals and dogs frequently encounter these viral particles while sniffing the ground during walks or playtime at the dog park. Direct dog-to-dog contact is not a needed for a dog to contract parvovirus.
Symptoms of Parvovirus Infection?
Look out for the following symptoms and bring your dog in to see us immediately if you suspect your dog is showing signs of parvovirus:
- Reduced appetite
- Abdominal swelling and discomfort
- Diarrhea (possibly with the presence of blood)
- Fluctuations in body temperature (fever or lower-than-normal temperature)
Preventing Parvovirus in Dogs
Vaccination is your pet’s best defence against parvovirus. While breakthroughs in any vaccination are possible, the occurrence is very low and more likely to be a result of irregular vaccination schedules.
Your puppy will only be fully vaccinated two weeks after the full course of vaccinations have been administered. Work with your vet at The Village Vet to plan your vaccinations and booster shots correctly for your dog’s age and lifestyle.
Keep your pets’ vaccinations up to date, at all times.
What You Can Do to Help
- Pick up after your dog when out for walks and around the yard.
- Keep your dog’s bedding and food/water dishes clean.
- Vaccinate your pet on time.
- Keep puppies home until they are fully vaccinated.
Typically seen in young, unvaccinated puppies, older, unvaccinated dogs can also contract the infection. A diagnostic test is available for detecting the virus in faecal samples. If detected, your dog will be hospitalised to administer intravenous fluids and medications.
- Dr Anabel Thomas BSc BVMS, Senior Veterinarian and Owner. The Village Vet
- American Veterinary Medical Association: https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/petcare/canine-parvovirus
- Australian Veterinary Association: https://www.ava.com.au
- Australian Dog Lover: https://www.australiandoglover.com/2015/11/why-should-you-vaccinate-your-dog.html