What is Canine Parvovirus?
Also known as CPV, Canine Parvovirus is a highly contagious viral illness that can be debilitating and even fatal. 6 week to 6 months old puppies are most commonly affected, but with early vaccinations, the risk of contracting CPV is significantly reduced. CPV shows up in two main forms- the more common intestinal variety and the less common cardiac variety.
CPV is strong and resistant to most cleaning products, with household bleach as the only known way to eradicate it.
What causes CPV?
The CPV virus is mainly transmitted two main ways- through direct contact with an infected animal either by inhalation or touch, or indirectly through contact with the stools of an infected dog, which hold a heavy concentration of the virus. This persistent virus can also live in the ground for up to a year, so can be brought into contact with a dog by way of being tracked in from shoes.
Genetics also play a role in susceptibility. Certain breeds of dog are more likely to pick up CPV. These are: Alaskan Sled Dogs, Dobermans Pinschers, English Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Pitbulls and Rottweilers. Additionally, dogs that take immunosuppressant medication or have not been vaccinated are more likely to contract CPV.
Animal shelters and kennels are much more likely to be contaminated, like with most contagious diseases.
Symptoms of CPV
When infected with CPV, an animal loses capability to absorb nutrients through their food. Because of this, an infected dog will rapidly become dehydrated and weak.
Here are the primary symptoms of CPV:
Anorexia / severe weight loss
Wet tissue of eyes and mouth becomes red and inflamed
Pain, particularly if the abdomen is touched
In rare cases of CPV, a dog’s symptoms may align with hypothermia instead of a high fever. Cardiac CPV is extremely rare and usually only seen in very young puppies where it attacks their heart muscles. Cardiac CPV almost always results in death.
For an accurate diagnosis of Canine Parvovirus, a combination of tests is required. These tests can include but are not limited to:
Additionally, your vet will ask you to provide a comprehensive history of the health of your pet and to note the progression of any symptoms that have been shown. You may also be asked to provide samples of other bodily fluids.
Because CPV itself has no sure, treatment revolves around easing symptoms to make your pet more comfortable and ensuring that additional problems such as bacterial infections do not take hold. In a hospital environment, your pet can be most comfortable and receive treatments that may include intravenous fluid therapy, nutrition therapy, anti-sickness medications, antibiotics, and anthelmintics.
Because of their underdeveloped immune systems, puppies have a lower survival rate with CPV. For adult dogs, the survival rate is usually around 70%. When dogs who do not survive, it is most commonly because of secondary bacterial infections, organ failure from severe dehydration, intestinal hemorrhages or as a result of toxins in the bloodstream.
Prevention is better than cure!
Especially because of the implications of CPV, prevention is so important. Vaccinations against CPV can be done as early as 8 weeks old, and puppies are best off being
vaccinated at 8, 12 and 16 weeks. After their vaccination, they should be kept from socializing with other animals for another two weeks. By 16 weeks of age, with proper vaccination, they should be sufficiently prepared to have contact with other animals. Be sure to check if your pet is one of the higher-risk breeds because they may require an extended initial vaccination program.
When re-homing an older dog, be sure to check with the shelter or current owner when it last had a CPV vaccination. If there is doubt at all about proper vaccination, be sure to consult with your veterinarian. It is vital to ensure that your pet receives the correct vaccination program for their requirements.
Imperative for dogs that have had CPV is a period of being kept in isolation for a minimum of two months after the initial recovery stage because they will still have a weakened immune system. Your veterinarian can help advise you on ways that you can boost their immune system, and will recommend a simple diet that’s easy to digest, and for its food and water to be close by. Another very important step is to be sure that you regularly clean all of your dogs’ equipment and toys with non-toxic cleaner.
Unfortunately suffering from CPV very much compromising your pet’s immune system, and there is no guarantee that CPV will not reoccur. To prevent CPV from ever being a problem, make sure your dog is vaccinated against CPV as soon as possible, and stick to a regular vaccination and check up schedule.