Parvovirus is a viral disease that is found in humans, dogs, cats, and other animals. In dogs, it is called canine parvovirus and is potentially deadly. Parvovirus is the most common viral illness found in dogs. The virus centers in the intestinal lining because it likes to grow in rapidly dividing cells, and the intestinal lining has the biggest concentration of rapidly dividing cells in a dog’s body. The virus kills and infects those cells, often inducing diarrhea, depression, lethargy and vomiting.
It also suppresses the production of white blood cells and can infect the heart muscle in young puppies, leading to sudden death. Parvo can also attack a dog’s heart as well as a puppy’s, leading to congestive heart failure. This complication can occur months or years after an apparent recovery from the intestinal form of the disease. Because of their weak immune systems, puppies are more susceptible and those who survive parvovirus infection remain unhealthy for much of their life. Parvo occurs most often in puppies but can affect any dogs that have not been immunized against it, and adult dogs may be infected without ever showing any signs.
A disease like Canine Parvovirus is not an airborne virus. It is communicable through the feces and excrement of animals. Dogs can only get it from dogs, and cannot pass it across species. Your cat is safe, but your other dogs are not. Parvovirus can be tracked into your house via the soles of your shoes, your hands, and even your tires. The virus is extremely resilient, with the capability to withstand most cleaning agents and extreme temperature changes. If a dog vomits or passes their bowels on a surface, be it grass or your kitchen floor, parvo can survive as long as nine months or more if not eradicated.
Many vets recommend vaccinating puppies every three to four weeks for parvo beginning at 6 weeks of age. This should ideally continue until they are at least 16 weeks of age, and as old as twenty weeks. It is possible that this vaccine confers lifelong immunity once it does work but many veterinarians continue to recommend yearly vaccination by at least a year old. It is hard to successfully vaccinate a puppy for this disease because the antibody protection the puppy acquires from its mother often interferes with vaccination. The immunization is usually given when they are inoculated against distemper and other diseases.
No cure exists for any virus, and this includes parvovirus. The incubation period for parvo is 7-10 days. Then your dog will start to show symptoms. Symptoms usually begin with a high fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, and depression. Secondary symptoms appear as vomiting and bloody diarrhea. The diarrhea is often a yellow color and the smell is nauseating. Only the symptoms can be treated, and veterinarians do this by trying to prevent dehydration and loss of proteins. This includes giving fluids, regulating electrolyte levels, controlling body temperature and giving blood transfusions.
Treatment generally consists of IV or sub-cutaneous fluids and antibiotics. Treating the symptoms and supporting the different systems in the body during the course of the disease are all that can be done.
Besides mainstream medical treatment, there are also naturopathic veterinarians who may be able to help your dog. For example, Amber Technology offers Parvaid, a natural herbal formula that has supposedly helped some animals overcome parvovirus. Seeking a wide variety of treatments for your dog is a good way of increasing its chances of survival.
Your dog has about a fifty/fifty chance of survival if infected by parvovirus. If they make it through the first three or four days, there is a high probability of survival, but dogs who have had parvo can always get it again. The only way to eradicate it from your home is to destroy it. There is only one totally effective treatment against parvo. It is a simple mixture of bleach and water. Bleach is the only household agent that completely decimates the virus.
If your dog has had parvo, wash everything that has been touched by you or your dog with chlorine bleach diluted 1 ounce per quart of water. And this means every single item that has been touched by your dog or yourself. This includes your clothes and shoes, their food and water bowl, and any areas on which your dog vomited or defecated, like floors or grassy areas. It may sound extreme, but this is the only way to ensure that your home becomes parvovirus free.
Another factor to take into consideration is that a higher occurrence of canine parvovirus is found in certain breeds, like Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and other black and tan dogs. They seem to succumb quickest and easiest to parvovirus, so be extra careful if you have one of these breeds, and make absolutely certain you get them vaccinated.
There are many other illnesses and disorders that lead to gastro intestinal distress besides parvovirus. Often it can be an upset stomach or doggy flu. But what about the one time it’s not? For your dog’s health and safety, have them checked out. If you have a puppy, get it vaccinated as soon as possible. The earlier parvo is caught, the better chances are for recovery.