Common Illness in Puppies: Parvovirus
When adopting puppies, their health should be a pet parent’s highest concern. Young dogs are especially susceptible to contracting infections because their immune systems aren’t fully developed. Parvovirus can result in death in young puppies, so it’s important to watch for the symptoms before the disease progresses too far.
The canine parvovirus, or CPV, is a highly contagious disease that occurs mainly in puppies between the ages of six weeks and six months. CPV can be transmitted through bites and feces. The virus can also be tracked in through feces-infected shoes and can also remain in soil. Sometimes improperly given CPV vaccinations can infect dogs as well.
There are two types of CPV – intestinal and cardiac. Symptoms of the both strains include:
- Abdominal tenderness
- Bloody diarrhea
- Anorexia/weight loss
- Fever or hypothermia
Symptoms that are unique to the cardiac strain are:
- Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
- Reddening of eye/mouth tissues
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your vet will perform a physical examination followed by various tests including a urinalysis and blood profiling. An ultrasound and radiograph of the abdominal area may be taken as well. Most pets will have to be hospitalized for treatments. IV fluid and nutrition therapy along with medications to relieve nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea will be given.
Since CPV is a virus, it will stay in a dog’s system for the rest of his or her life. This makes them more vulnerable to contracting other diseases, so it’s important to talk to your vet about ways to boost dogs’ immune systems and protect them. For two months after initial infection, your dog has a high chance of passing CPV on to other dogs; you need to quarantine your dog to prevent spreading the disease. Bleach all surfaces your pet came into contact with – food and water bowls, toys, crate, etc. – as CPV can remain contagious for up to a month. After bleaching, make sure to soak the items in dish soap and water to prevent bleach contamination.
Regularly clean your backyard of feces to prevent the spread of CPV. There is a parvovirus vaccine; talk to your vet. It’s extremely important to keep puppies’ environments clean to reduce the risk of them contracting life-threatening diseases. Refrain from socializing your puppy until two weeks after a recent CPV vaccination.
Parvovirus is a serious illness that is most commonly found in young puppies. With the proper steps – vaccination, clean environment – you can keep your puppy safe.