What is Parvo? Your Carmel Veterinarian Explains Parvovirus Infection In Dogs

What is Parvo?  Your Carmel Veterinarian Explains Parvovirus Infection In Dogs

How would my dog get Parvo?  Canine Parvovirus is a dog specific virus that can usually affects puppies.  The virus is spread by a fecal-oral route, which means the dog sticks his nose into the grass to smell where another dog defecated.  Once infected dogs usually begin to show symptoms of the disease in 1-2 weeks after exposure.  Humans can NOT be infected with parvo.

What are the symptoms of Canine Parvovirus?  The most common signs of Canine Parvovirus I see as a Carmel veterinarian are puppies with very bloody diarrhea, decreased appetite, vomiting, and lethargy leading to profound weakness.  The virus spreads through the body destroying the inner lining of the intestines.  It also destroys the bone marrow of the dog causing a very low white blood cell count.  As a Carmel veterinarian, the way I explain Parvo virus is to compare it to the side effects of chemotherapy cancer drugs.  The parvo virus attacks the fast growing cells of the puppy.  So just like the side effects of some chemotherapy drugs we see GI signs of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, as well as depleted bone marrow and low white blood cell count. [no hair loss though :) ]

Is Parvovirus fatal in dogs?  If the infection is not treated, the destruction of the intestines in the puppy can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream.  Since the white blood cell count is already very low from the bone marrow destruction, it is hard for a puppy to mount an immune response.  If the bacteria and toxins in the blood stream overwhelm the puppy’s system, multiple organ failure and death can occur.

Is canine Parvovirus treatable?  Yes!  If your puppy is showing signs of Parvo virus, call your Carmel veterinarian right away.  With supportive care of IV fluids, anti-vomiting medication, and antibiotic therapy most dogs will respond favorably to treatment if taken to their Carmel veterinarian in time.  Full recovery, however, can require several days of hospitalized care.

How can I prevent my dog from getting parvo?  Preventing parvo virus is easy.  Simply follow the vaccination protocol of your Carmel veterinarian.  The parvo vaccine is usually administered every 3-4 week from between 6 weeks and 16 weeks to provide complete protection.  During the first 6 weeks, the antibodies from the mother should provide immunity.  Most dogs I see as a Carmel veterinarian who are suffering from parvo, are dogs who did NOT receive their vaccinations when they should have.

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