It is heartbreaking to see our dogs suffering from parvovirus. Seeing them fatally ill is any dog owner’s worst nightmare. But, it is a preventable disease, so it is imperative that pooch owners have knowledge about the risk of the virus, how to avoid parvovirus in dogs, and what are the steps pet owners need to follow if their dog catches parvovirus.
What is parvovirus?
Parvovirus is known as canine parvovirus (CPV). It is a common dog illness that severely affects pooches. It can suddenly turn your dog from being active to being fatally ill. This disease can produce a life-threatening illness in our furry friends if not treated or handled properly.
What are the kinds of parvovirus in dogs?
Parvovirus manifests itself in two different kinds, CPV1 and CPV2. However, the most common one is the intestinal form, while the most uncommon type is the cardiac form.
The intestinal virus affects the dog’s weight and appetite — they vomit and suffer from diarrhea. Meanwhile, dogs infected by the cardiac form often die because it attacks the heart muscles of fetuses and very young pups.
How parvovirus affects dogs? What are the signs and symptoms?
Parvo in dogs is a fatal virus that can infect our dogs’ intestines and can result in severe dehydration and bloody diarrhea.
Once your pooch got infected, the parvovirus in him will replicate. This replication takes place in different parts of your dog’s body and tissue. As a result of this replication, your pooch will have severe GI issues and in rare cases, myocarditis or inflammation of the heart.
How dogs get parvo infected?
Dogs with parvovirus or is recovering from the disease pass large numbers of the virus in their excrements. The virus particles can survive for so long in the environment so parvovirus can be transmitted by anyone that comes in contact with it.
On the other hand, if you have sensitive dogs, they are mostly orally infected, when they come in contact with an infected area. So, be attentive and be careful if your sensitive dog likes to mess around and go outside. There is no safe place if a dog in your neighborhood has parvovirus. It is better to be careful than to be sorry.
What else you need to know?
Dogs can be infected in two ways — directly and indirectly having contact with the virus.
Direct contact. Dogs can contract parvovirus through nose and mouth. This happens if they sniff or licks an object, surface or another pooch that is infected. So, better be mindful, especially if you are taking care of puppies. Puppies like to explore; their curiosity could lead to sickness as they can get affected easily.
Indirect contact. Dogs can also get infected by parvovirus indirectly because like what I have said, this virus can survive for months. It can survive on things, clothing, environment and even on human skin. So, once the dog comes into contact with an infected person, area, or object, that’s when the indirect transmission happens.
Parvo is a resilient virus. It can survive anywhere — indoors or outdoors — especially if it is protected from direct sunlight. This is why proper cleanup is really important — look at the quarantine areas in hospitals, they are cleaned from top to bottom just to make sure it is virus-free.
Who are the most at risk?
If you think your strong dog cannot be infected by parvovirus, then you are wrong! Any dog — puppies, adolescent pooches and adult dogs — can get infected by this highly contagious illness, especially those who are not vaccinated. Those unvaccinated pooches are the most at risk of contracting parvovirus as their body is not strong enough to fight back the virus.
Very young puppies are more prone to parvovirus as they often like to sniff and lick different surfaces. Puppies aged between 16 weeks and six months old are more sensitive to this virus.
What should I do if my dog catches parvovirus?
Most pet owners, especially first-time dog owners, get alarmed when they found that their dog has bloody diarrhea or their dogs is losing a lot of weight. It’s okay to feel that way because you are just concerned about your dog’s health and welfare. However, keep in mind that you need to concentrate on the situation first. You need to teach yourself how to stay calm so you can deal with the problem as soon as possible and with precautions as it may threaten your pooch’s life.
No dog owner wants to experience this situation, so to help your dog with parvovirus and to save his life, you need to consider these things:
1. Consult your vet. The sooner, the better.
If you have a dog with parvovirus or if you think your dog has contracted the virus, make sure you consult your doctor as soon as possible. Do not wait until your dog is suffering too much. Dogs with parvovirus need intensive care. He needs proper treatment to fight the disease.
Keep in mind that parvovirus in dogs is dangerous. The virus is deadly to our dogs, especially if they are too young or are not vaccinated. The virus decreases our dog’s ability to fight infections, so it is advisable to consult a veterinarian because they will give them supportive fluids, medicines, and nutrition that could save them from the virus.
According to the American Kennel Club, the medicines that your veterinarian will prescribe for your dog depends on the seriousness of his condition. Your vet will most likely suggest hospitalizing your pooch. Usually, dogs with parvovirus will be put in an isolation ward where he will be treated, receive proper care and can be observed 24/7.
2. Be attentive. Track your dog’s condition.
Once your dog has been admitted, it does not mean you will leave all the heavy work to your vet. Keep in mind that you are his owner and his family. He will still rely on you, no matter what. You do not need to visit him all day, all the time, just be there for him when he needs you — make sure he feels your presence and support as it can help them survive not just physically, but emotionally.
3. Be smart. Do your research.
Although it is best to consult your vet, researching what other help you can give to your dog is also advisable. You do not need to be an expert, just be knowledgeable so that you know what you must do when your dog needs your help.
Other than the right medication, you must research about the complications, the do’s and don’ts and the food that they have to eat to help them get better.
4. Be prepared. Provide all the things your dog needs.
If you have a dog with parvovirus, then, you need to be prepared not just financially, but emotionally and physically. Keep in kind that dogs with parvovirus will undergo different tests to know his condition accurately with what are the treatments and medications he needs.
How to prevent parvovirus in dogs?
Parvovirus is preventable, but it does not mean it only affects unvaccinated dogs. Whether your pooch is vaccinated or not, if he is exposed to areas contaminated by the virus, then, it is more likely that your dog will be infected too.
What you should remember is…
1. Vaccinate your dogs!
Although vaccinated dogs are still at risk of getting infected, it does not mean vaccination is not helpful. Immunizing your dog is advisable because it reduces the risk of getting infected.
According to The Animal Foundation, puppies should get their first injection at six to eight weeks of age while booster should be given at 3-week intervals until your pup turns 16 weeks.
On the other hand, previously vaccinated dogs should be given boosters every year to strengthen their body and maintain their health.
2. Be mindful of where you let your dogs hang out.
As a pet owner, you should never allow your unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated pooches to come in contact with infected dogs, unvaccinated pooches and to the places where unvaccinated dogs may have been. Although it is still safe to let puppies be with vaccinated, virus-free dogs in a safe place, it is still advisable to vaccinate your pup as soon as possible. Vaccination decreases the risk of the spread of any fatal illness or virus, so make sure you consult your vet immediately.
3. Carry your puppies when going to animal clinics.
Puppies are more at risk of contracting parvovirus because their immune system is still undeveloped. So, when visiting your vet or an animal clinic, it is much better to carry your puppy in your arms outside and put him on your lap while waiting for your check-up. Through this, you can keep your dog from getting contaminated because walking where pooches have walked will increase your pup’s risk of getting infected.
Taking care of dogs is not a joke; it is an all-around duty.
As a pet owner, it is our responsibility to be more cautious. Dogs rely on us all the time as we are the only family they have. Protecting them has been part of our duty since the day we accepted them in our lives.
Although we cannot control what might happen to them, we are still in the position to guide them and protect them to keep them away from harm. So, keep in mind that we, pet owners, should do all the precautionary measures to keep our dogs active and healthy.