Canine Parvovirus: A Guide for Dog Owners

Canine parvovirus, or CPV, is a highly contagious disease that afflicts many dogs each year. It is a new disease, only recently discovered since the 1970’s and it is theorized that the virus has mutated from feline distemper. Young puppies that have not received all of their shots are especially vulnerable to fatality from CPV.

Also known as simply “parvo”, CPV is spread from touch from one dog to the next. It also appears in the fecal matter of infected dogs, so that is another way for a dog to contract it. Incubation time for CPV is generally a week, to a week and a half. Unlike most other viruses, the canine parvovirus is very stable in most environments. Because of its resiliency, the risk of infection is even higher.

There are two kinds of CPV that a dog can be infected with: cardiac and intestinal. The cardiac form is much more rare than the latter and can result in heart failure. Most dogs suffering from CPV are being afflicted in the intestines and stomach. Symptoms include: vomiting, severe diarrhea, depression, loss of appetite, and dehydration. The dehydration caused by CPV is what makes it so dangerous. A dog may vomit until he dies, in only a few days.

The best way to prevent parvo is by receiving routine, preventative vaccinations from the veterinarian. Puppies should be started on a regiment of shots as soon as they are old enough. Should your dog exhibit signs of the virus, seek immediate help so that an aggressive treatment can begin. With fluid therapy and antibiotics, your dog may live.

CPV is almost always fatal with very young dogs, although it cannot be spread to humans or cats. After treatment begins, be sure to disinfect everything the dog has come into contact with in order to prevent reinfection or infection of other dogs. As with all health issues concerning your pets, prevention is absolutely necessary to maintain a long lasting life. See your veterinarian regularly- do not miss any visits.

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