One of the challenges that every pet parent faces is keeping their furry friend healthy by protecting them from harmful diseases. Nothing can be more devastating than seeing your voice-less pets suffer from an ailment. If you are pet parent who is raising dogs or puppies, one of the most common and dangerous diseases that you need to be aware of is Parvo Disease.
According to a research paper by Goddard and Leisewitz (2010), "Despite the availability of vaccines, CPV [Canine Parvovirus] remains a common and important cause of disease in dogs, especially in puppies." Therefore, you must always stay alert by knowing the causes, symptoms and risks of Parvo disease so that you could take appropriate steps to protect your furry friends.
What is Parvo Disease?
Parvo Disease, also known as canine parvovirus, is a highly contagious viral disease that affects dogs. The virus attacks the intestinal tract, causing severe diarrhoea, vomiting, and dehydration. In severe cases, it causes a sudden drop in white blood cells and damages the heart muscles, leading to sudden death, especially in young puppies.
What are the causes of Parvo Disease?
Parvo Disease spreads through direct contact with infected dogs, their faeces, or contaminated environments. The virus can survive in the environment for months, making it easy for dogs to pick up the infection by sniffing or licking contaminated objects or surfaces. Puppies and younger dogs are more susceptible to the disease because their immune systems are not fully developed.
What are the symptoms of Parvo Disease?
The symptoms of Parvo Disease typically appear within 3-10 days after exposure to the virus. The most common symptoms include:
- Severe diarrhoea, often with blood
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy or weakness
How is Parvo disease diagnosed?
A veterinarian can diagnose Parvo disease through a physical examination, blood test, and faecal test. The virus can be detected in the faeces of infected dogs using a special test that looks for the presence of Parvo antigens.
How is Parvo Disease treated?
There is no specific cure for Parvo Disease, but supportive care is essential for managing the symptoms and preventing complications. Treatment may include:
- Fluid therapy to restore hydration and electrolyte balance
- Nutritional support
- Antibiotics to prevent secondary bacterial infections
- Medications to control vomiting and diarrhoea
- Blood transfusions in severe cases
Hospitalisation is often necessary for severely affected dogs, especially young puppies. Most dogs recover from Parvo Disease within a week or two with proper care.
How can Parvo Disease be prevented?
Prevention is the best way to protect your dog from Parvo Disease. Here are some effective preventive measures:
- Vaccination: Make sure your dog is up-to-date on their Parvo vaccination schedule. Puppies should receive a series of vaccinations starting at 6-8 weeks of age, with booster shots every 3-4 weeks until they are 16-20 weeks old. Adult dogs should receive a booster vaccination every one to three years, depending on the vaccine used.
- Avoid exposure to infected dogs: Keep your dog away from infected dogs or areas where they may have been present, such as dog parks or pet stores.
- Clean and disinfect: Use pet-safe sanitisers, disinfectants and floor cleaners which are free from ingredients such as BKC regularly to clean and disinfect areas including their bedding, toys, and food/water bowls.
- Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling dogs or their faeces, and avoid allowing your dog to lick your face or mouth.
Can humans catch Parvo disease from dogs?
No, Parvo disease is not contagious to humans. However, the virus can cling onto your clothing and shoes as a means to transport from one place to another, so it's important to practice good hygiene and wash your hands thoroughly after handling an infected dog.
Parvo disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease that can affect dogs of all ages. By being aware of the symptoms, seeking prompt veterinary care, and practising good hygiene, pet parents can help protect their dogs from this highly contagious virus.
- American Veterinary Medical Association. "Canine Parvovirus." https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/petcare/canine-parvovirus
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Canine Parvovirus." https://www.cdc.gov/parvovirus/b19/faq.html
- Merck Veterinary Manual. "Canine Parvovirus Infection." https://www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/disorders-affecting-multiple-body-systems-of-dogs/canine-parvovirus
- Animal Humane Society. (n.d.). Parvovirus in dogs. Retrieved from https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/health/parvovirus-dogs
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. (n.d.). Canine parvovirus. Retrieved from https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-shelter-medicine/programs/shelter-health-portal/parvovirus
- Goddard, A., & Leisewitz, A. L. (2010). Canine parvovirus.
- Hoskins, J. D. (2008). Canine parvovirus. Clinical Techniques in Small Animal Practice, 23(1), 1-6. doi: 10.1053/j.ctsap.2007.11.001