What are the clinical signs of parvo?
The clinical signs and symptoms of CPV disease can vary, but generally they include severe vomiting and diarrhea. The diarrhea often has a very strong smell, may contain lots of mucus and may or may not contain blood. Additionally, affected dogs often exhibit a lack of appetite, marked listlessness and depression, and fever. Parvo may affect dogs of all ages, but is most common in unvaccinated dogs less than one year of age. Young puppies less than five months of age are usually the most severely affected, and the most difficult to treat.
How is it diagnosed?
The clinical signs of CPV infection can mimic many other diseases that cause vomiting and diarrhea. There is a simple in-clinic test for CPV that will screen for this disease.
How does a dog become infected with parvovirus?
The main source of the virus is from the feces of infected dogs. The virus begins to be shed in the feces just before clinical signs develop and shedding continues for about ten days.
Unlike most other viruses, CPV is very stable in the environment and is resistant to the effects of heat, detergents, alcohol, and many disinfectants. Due to its environmental stability, the virus is easily transmitted via the hair or feet of infected dogs, or on shoes, clothes, and other objects contaminated by infected feces. Direct contact between dogs is not required. Dogs that become infected with the virus and show clinical signs will usually become ill within six to ten days after exposure.
Can parvo be treated successfully?
There is no treatment to kill the virus once it infects the dog. However, the virus does not directly cause death; rather, it causes loss of the lining of the intestinal tract, and destroys some blood cell elements. The intestinal damage results in severe dehydration (water loss), electrolyte (sodium and potassium) imbalances, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and infection in the bloodstream (septicemia).
What is the survival rate?
Most dogs with CPV infection can recover if aggressive treatment is used and if therapy is begun before severe septicemia and dehydration occur. For reasons not fully understood, some breeds, notably the Rottweiler, Doberman pinscher and English springer spaniel, have a much higher fatality rate than other breeds.
Can parvo be prevented?
The best method of protecting your dog against CPV infection is proper vaccination. Puppies receive a parvovirus vaccination as part of their multiple-agent vaccine series. It is recommended to be given at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age. After the initial series of vaccinations, boosters will be required on a regular basis every year. Your regular veterinarian will make the final decision about the vaccination schedule that best fits your pet’s lifestyle.
Does parvovirus pose a health risk for me? How about my cats?
Currently, there is no evidence to indicate that CPV is transmissible to cats or humans