Parvo Virus is a highly contagious disease that wreaks havoc on the intestinal tract and immune system in dogs. Canine Parvovirus (CPV) has gained recognition for its severity, and just how contagious this virus is, to young, unvaccinated dogs. Some strains of parvo will be more severe than others, but if your pup picks up this virus, they will soon experience some unfavorable and painful symptoms.
Parvo in dogs first appeared in the late 1970s, when thousands of puppies and young dogs were suddenly falling ill with severe gastrointestinal illness. In this initial outbreak, they saw just how contagious this mystery disease was, and how quickly it could cause devastation to the canine population.
Now, we know that the canine parvovirus most likely originated from a similar virus in cats called Panleukopenia. Parvovirus is known to remain in an infected environment for up to 5 years, making it possible to infect dogs that cross its path.
After studying its origin and genetic makeup, we now have created effective vaccinations for this deadly disease.
Age is a huge factor when it comes to susceptibility to parvo in dogs. Puppies aged 6 weeks to 6 months are most susceptible but can cause illness in any young unvaccinated dog. As far as breeds, some dogs have been known to have less immunity to the disease, and even experience more severe symptoms when they do come down with CPV. These breeds include:
Parvovirus is also known to be at its peak during summer months, making it widespread during the months of July, August, and September. Dogs that live in a warm tropical climate are at a higher risk year-round since they do not experience a harsh freeze.
Parvo in dogs generally attacks the intestinal tract, causing a list of severe gastrointestinal symptoms. Some of these symptoms include:
What usually happens when a dog contracts parvo, is that they become severely dehydrated due to the loss of fluids with vomiting and diarrhea. They can also experience hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) due to not eating, which is serious if it is not corrected quickly.
Once the virus has started to progress, the intestinal lining can experience serious trauma. This damage to the intestinal lining can cause a severe drop in their white blood cell count, leading to a deadly condition called sepsis. At this point, it is extremely challenging to pull them through the disease.
Parvovirus in dogs causes severe diarrhea and vomiting, which are also symptoms of several other conditions that can affect young dogs and puppies. A trip to your veterinarian can help you to diagnose parvovirus or any of the conditions below:
Treatment for parvo in dogs will vary depending on the severity of the illness. Almost always, the main things that need to be corrected are nausea, vomiting, and the dehydration that comes with these symptoms. A trip to your local veterinarian is the only solution for a trustworthy treatment for the disease.
When a pup survives Canine Parvovirus, their gut may have experienced extreme damage due to the severe gastrointestinal problems that took place. It may take time and some new additions to their diet to help them restore their gut health.
Luckily in the time spent researching Canine Parvovirus, we have developed a series of vaccines that can protect our beloved companions. It’s imperative that a puppy receives their first round of bundle vaccines, as well as yearly boosters to keep them protected throughout their life.
Also, keep in mind that a young dog is not fully protected against CPV when they have not completed their vaccination course. This means that puppies that have yet to receive their vaccines, have not finished their puppy series of vaccines, or dogs who do not return for yearly boosters are still at risk. If your doggo is in a time where their vaccines are lacking, make sure to keep them away from public areas that other dogs frequent. This means to avoid dog parks, common grounds, pet stores, restaurants, and any other places that other dogs may visit.
While parvo in dogs is a devastating disease, it is entirely preventable. Make sure to do your research when welcoming a dog into your life, and establish a relationship with a veterinarian that you can trust. Prevention and education will keep your pup healthy and happy!
Amber is a Licensed Vet Tech with a degree in Veterinary Technology. Recently she has specialized in veterinary and animal-related content creation and social media management. When she is not working she loves spending time with her furry friends exploring the outdoors.