Every pet parent knows how heartbreaking it is to see our sweet pets sick. Moody, feverish, nauseated and tired. But a diagnosis that tells us that this is not the usual upset tummy makes matters worse.
In these hard times of the pandemic, when the whole world is doing its best to stay safe from Covid-19, as pet parents, it is our responsibility to be aware of similar viral infections that can affect our darling pets.
Canine Parvovirus is a highly contagious disease that spreads from dog to dog and has a mortality rate of a scary 91% when left untreated. It is a fairly new disease that was first reported in the 1970s but it quickly spread across the world in two years.
Due to the disease’s highly virulent and contagious nature, puppy’s survival depends on early diagnosis, their age and treatment chosen. American Kennel Club informs that, “Young dogs between six weeks and six months old, unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated dogs are most at risk for contracting parvo. German Shepherd Dogs, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, English Springer Spaniels, and American Staffordshire Terriers also have an increased risk of contracting the parvovirus, although scientists are not entirely sure why these dog breeds are at a higher risk than others.”
How do Puppies Contract Parvo?
A puppy can contract Parvo through direct and indirect contact.
In direct contact, the virus finds its way into the puppy through their noses and mouths when they come in contact with feces infected with the virus or from another puppy or dog already infected by the virus.
Similar to the coronavirus, Parvovirus too can survive for long hours on our clothes, surfaces and other equipment. Additionally, this virus is very resilient and can last indoors for months and is immune to several disinfectants and cleaners.
Once a puppy has been infected, this potentially deadly virus makes copies of itself inside the puppy’s small intestines, lymph nodes and bone marrow. This stage is especially painful and uncomfortable for the puppy and can lead to various Gastrointestinal problems and sometimes can even lead to an inflammation of their hearts.
However, it’s not all bleak. In fact, Canineparvovirus.org says that with early professional treatment, puppies and older dogs can defeat this disease. This is why identifying the warning signs and letting your vet know at the earliest is so important when it comes to this virus. Here are a few symptoms to look out for-
- Diarrhea- can be bloody or watery, or can be both
- Vomiting- Vomit contains bile, some food, and is watery.
- Lack of appetite- Shows aversion ranging from mild to severe, to food and water
- Fever- bloodshot eyes in some cases, chills and warm ears
- Weight Loss- Rapid, evident weight loss
If tested positive, your pet will need intensive care and ideally should be hospitalised where they will be constantly monitored and will be administered IV fluids and medications to prevent nausea and dehydration. Once the puppy starts responding to the medications and is able to keep her fluids down, doctors will cut down on the IV fluids and will give you further advice on how to introduce food to your recovering puppy. CanineParvovirus.org says, “Early treatment of canine parvovirus is highly successful, in fact it’s about 90% successful. Most dogs who do not recover from parvo do not survive because they didn’t receive treatment.”
Prevention is the Best Cure :
As the old adage goes, prevention is the best cure because Parvovirus is incredibly painful and can take a toll on your puppy’s growth. Follow through with the vaccination instructions as advised by your vet and if your puppy hasn’t yet been vaccinated, it is advised to limit their interactions with other dogs and uncertain environments.
Also, keep in mind that the vaccine only lasts for three years and in adult dogs this protection wanes which is why vets advice boosters every three years.
Once your puppy has recovered and is ready to come home, disinfect your house and yards with bleach. Regular soaps and disinfectants cannot kill the virus.
"The only disinfectant that can kill this virus is BLEACH."
Disinfect your house and surrounding areas with a 1:10 dilution of bleach. It is best to get rid of items that cannot be disinfected with bleach as they will continue to be contaminated.
Early diagnosis is the best chance at successful treatment and consequent recovery. Ensure that you take an appointment with your vet if your pet starts showing any of the symptoms we have mentioned. Moreover, vaccines provide immunity against the virus and the pet parent should follow through on the instructions by giving your puppy boosters as and when required.