The Lowdown on Parvovirus in Dogs

What is the Parvovirus?
Parvovirus is a deadly, contagious disease that attacks rapidly reproducing cells. The lining of the gastrointestinal tract is a common culprit. It also can attack the heart muscle of puppies that were infected in the mother’s uterus. This is a less common form. The parvovirus in dogs has been around since the 1970’s, and spread worldwide in less than two years.

How is the Parvovirus transmitted?
This extremely contagious disease can be passed along via any animal, object or human that comes in contact with infected feces. Parvo can live for months and many people don’t realize that it can survive on objects like shoes, clothes, carpets, and floors – even your dog’s leash. This dangerous disease is highly contagious and resistant.

Signs and symptoms of the Parvovirus:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite

Diagnosis of the parvovirus in dogs is made via clinical signs and laboratory tests. The Enzyme Linked ImmunoSorbant Assay (ELISA) test is a commonly used test. The test takes about 15 minutes to obtain results. Your vet may request blood work and additional testing for a clear diagnosis.

Preventing the Parvovirus:

  • Keep your dog up to date on his vaccinations.
  • If your dog is infected or an infected dog has been in your home or yard, disinfect all toys and bowls using a solution of bleach and water 1:32. Disinfect for ten minutes as parvo is very resistant. If you have items that can’t be clean, throw them out as the parvovirus is deadly!
  • Take care when allowing your dog to socialize with other dogs especially if your dog is not
  • vaccinated. If you are going away on vacation, an in-home pet sitter is the best option as your dog is susceptible to diseases in a kennel environment.

If your dog is infected with the parvovirus, you can expect a lengthy and costly hospital stay. Infected dogs will receive antibiotics, drugs to control vomiting as well as IV fluids. Care is geared towards building the dog’s immune system so it may battle the disease. There are no drugs currently on the market that can eradicate the parvovirus.

If your dog exhibits any of the above mentioned symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. Your dog’s life could be in danger. Prompt treatment could be the difference between life and death of your beloved canine companion.