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Parvo in dogs occurs when the dog is infected with the parvovirus making him weak and more susceptible to illnesses. This is because the virus attacks the rapidly dividing cells largely found in the dog’s intestinal lining which interrupts the absorption of nutrients. Dogs who survive a parvo infection will remain weak and sickly throughout their lives.


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The treatment method for parvo in dogs aims to aid the infected dogs and their pet owners manage the signs and symptoms associated with the disease. That is why an infected dog must be taken to the veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment plan based on his specific needs.

What is Parvo in Dogs?


Parvo is a very contagious viral disease caused by the Canine Parvovirus. Puppies and adult dogs can get the virus but a higher incidence of parvo infection is noted in puppies. This is because the immune system of a puppy is not yet fully developed. The Canine Parvovirus develops in rapidly dividing cells such as in a puppy’s intestinal lining, killing the cells resulting to mal-absorption of nutrients. Dogs with parvo infection will suffer from diarrhea and ulcerative enteritis.


There are two strains of parvo in dogs, the CPV-1 for Type 1 Canine Parvovirus and CPV-2 for Type 2 Canine Parvovirus. The Type 2 Canine Parvovirus can mutate several times thereby giving rise to new strains such as the CPV-2a, 2b and 2c.


How do Dogs get the Parvo Disease?


Dogs contract the virus through direct contact with feces of an infected dog. The virus can live up to 9 months under favorable conditions. Parvo may not be an airborne disease but it can easily spread through birds and even the soles of shoes which have been previously in contact with infected stools. The virus then enters the dog’s body through his nasal and mouth tissues and harms his heart muscles, white blood cells and intestinal lining. Dogs infected with the virus may eventually die.


Parvo in dogs affects all dog breeds but certain breeds are more susceptible than others like Beagles, Rottweillers, Dobermans Pinschers, Pit Bull Terriers as well as black and tan breeds of dogs. These breeds of dogs are more likely to contract the parvo disease and do not recover.


Where does the Parvovirus Thrive?


The Parvovirus can flourish in some household items like food containers. They also thrive on floors and rugs. Household insects like cockroaches help in spreading the virus from one place to another. The virus is also highly resistant to heat and phenolic disinfectants. However, the parvovirus can be eliminated with the use of conventional household bleach.


How will you know if your dog is infected with Parvo?


It will take one to two weeks for the signs and symptoms of parvo to surface, though the virus can be detected on the third day of exposure. After the incubation period, the infected dog will manifest symptoms of lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. Dogs with parvo infection do not want to eat, has high fever and are depressed. They pass on liquid and foul-smelling stool which is typically yellowish in color and with a tinge of blood. If it goes untreated, secondary symptoms may surface like acute gastrointestinal distress, dehydration, shock and death.


Parvo usually attacks the intestinal lining of infected dogs, but it may also harm their hearts. When the virus attacks the intestinal lining, the infected dog is remarkably lethargic and weak with uncontrolled vomiting, severe diarrhea and bloody feces. When parvo attacks the heart muscles, the infected dog experiences breathing difficulty due to necrosis and inflamed heart muscles. It should be noted that the severity of parvo in dogs depends on the age and breed, including the amount of virus dose and maternal antibody.


Treatment for Parvo in Dogs


Parvo in dogs treatment plans are tailored based on the individual signs and symptoms. The veterinarian will first conduct ELISA (or Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay), an antibody examination which tests the stool of a dog suspected with parvo infection for proper diagnosis. The treatment methods may include the following:


• Electrolyte administration, either orally or subcutaneously, to recompense the lost fluid caused by vomiting and diarrhea.

• Intravenous electrolyte administration for severe infection.

• Antibiotics may be given for secondary infection and appropriate medications to control any related symptoms. Corticosteroids may be administered to prevent shock due to parvo infection.

• Transfusion of plasma or blood may be needed to compensate for the loss of antibodies and proteins.


Preventing Parvo in Dogs


Parvo in dogs can be prevented by keeping the dogs away from the vomit and feces of infected dogs. It is best to have the puppies vaccinated with the parvo vaccine which is often included when the distemper vaccine is administered. Most of all, preventing parvo in dogs means preventing the proliferation of the parvovirus. This is done by cleaning the places where the virus lives using a household bleach solution.


Parvo in dogs is a serious threat for dogs, especially puppies. Learning its symptoms and treatment is very important to increase the dog’s chances of living. One should also realize that regardless of excellent preventive measures, some dogs will not survive the detrimental effects of the parvovirus.

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