Parvovirus in dogs: symptom, diagnosis, treatment and prevention

Parvovirus can be fatal to your pet if not treated as soon as possible, and is very common in unvaccinated dogs and very often affects puppies on farms. Discover all the peculiarities of this disease, the ways to avoid it and to treat it.

Definition and symptoms of parvovirus

Parvovirus is an infectious disease that is caused by a pathogen called canine parvovirus type 2. It is sort of the equivalent of typhus in cats. Particularly contagious, this disease appeared for the first time in 1978 in Australia and the United States. Breeding puppies are the most susceptible, although adult dogs can also be victims. The disease mainly affects puppies who have not been able to benefit from the antibodies provided by breast milk. An overgrowth of digestive parasites or poor nutrition are all factors that lead to the appearance of parvovirus. You should know that there are certain breeds that are likely to be more affected by the virus, in particular Pitbulls, Dobermanns or Rottweilers.

The disease is spread through feces or vomit contaminated by infected dogs. The virus is particularly resistant. It can live up to 6 months. When it soils shoes, soles or clothing, it can infect dogs and only needs three days to reach the whole body.

A high fever is the first symptom and is accompanied by depression and loss of appetite. After a few days, the dog exhibits vomiting, hemorrhagic diarrhea and becomes weaker and weaker. Death can occur between 3 and 5 days if the puppy has not received the necessary care quickly.

Diagnosis of the disease

The first step in the diagnosis is stool analysis. It is carried out by electron microscopy or by the enzyme-linked immunosorbent ELISA method. This technique gives results after a few minutes. Even if the test shows negative, the presence of parvovirus should not be ruled out. The veterinarian may need to take a blood smear. The absence of a white blood cell after this test combined with various symptoms such as hemorrhagic gastroenteritis confirms the disease. An analysis of intestinal parasites will eventually complete the diagnosis.

Parvovirus treatments and prevention

Repeated vomiting and diarrhea cause severe dehydration in dogs. The priority is therefore to rehydrate it. Hypoglycemia can also occur due to gastrointestinal disorders, or loss of appetite. To rebalance the body, the veterinarian is required to perform infusions of potassium, glucose and fluids. Intestinal dressings as well as antiemetic treatments are done to alleviate the viral infection. In the event of a secondary infection, it will also be necessary to carry out an antibiotic treatment.

To prevent parvovirus, very effective vaccines exist, but they can only be inoculated in puppies over 12 weeks. Ideally, they suckle their mothers for as long as possible to avoid illness. Also, if the environment has come in contact with a sick dog, it is imperative to clean everything with bleach.

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