Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that can affect all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than four months old are the most at risk.
In fact it is now 99% a disease of young, unvaccinated dogs – not seen in dogs older than 1 year of age.
The virus affects dogs’ gastrointestinal tracts and is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated feces (stool), environments, or people.
The virus can also contaminate kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, and the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs.It is resistant to heat, cold, humidity, and drying, and can survive in the environment for long periods of time.
Even trace amounts of feces from an infected dog may harbor the virus and infect other dogs that come into the infected environment.
The virus is readily transmitted from place to place on the hair or feet of dogs or via contaminated cages, shoes, or other objects.
History of Parvovirus in Dogs
A variant of the Feline Distemper Virus 1st showed up in dogs in 1978.
In 1978, no dog had any sort of immunity against this virus.
There was no resistance and the epidemic that resulted was disastrous.
To make matters worse, a second mutation creating CPV-2a had occurred by 1979, and it seemed to be even more aggressive.
Vaccine was at a premium and many veterinarians had to make do with feline distemper vaccine as it was the closest related vaccine available while the manufacturers struggled to supply the nation with true parvo vaccines.
Signs of parvovirus
Some of the signs of parvovirus include lethargy; loss of appetite; abdominal pain and bloating; fever or low body temperature (hypothermia); vomiting; and severe, often bloody, diarrhea. Persistent vomiting and diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration, and damage to the intestines and immune system can cause septic shock.
If your puppy or dog shows any of these signs, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
Most deaths from parvovirus occur within 48 to 72 hours following the onset of clinical signs.
Diagnosis and treatment
Parvovirus infection is often suspected based on the dog’s history, physical examination, and laboratory tests. Fecal testing can confirm the diagnosis.
No specific drug is available that will kill the virus in infected dogs, and treatment is intended to support the dog’s body systems until the dog’s immune system can fight off the viral infection.
Treatment should be started immediately and consists primarily of intensive care efforts to combat dehydration by replacing electrolyte, protein and fluid losses, controlling vomiting and diarrhea, and preventing secondary infections.
Sick dogs should be kept warm and receive good nursing care. When a dog develops parvo, treatment can be very expensive, and the dog may die despite aggressive treatment.
Early recognition and aggressive treatment are very important in successful outcomes. With proper treatment, survival rates can approach 90%.
This is 1 of only 2 dog vaccines I advise. ( Parvovirus and Distemper)
Parvoviral infection has become a disease almost exclusively of puppies and adolescent dogs.
Parvovirus vaccine is effective, and now only 2 doses at 8 and then 12 weeks are needed to confer immunity to your pup
After 1 year of age, your dog will have adequate immunity, and in my opinion will not need another Parvovirus vaccine.