Canine Parvovirus (Parvo)

Microscopic view of Canine Parvovirus 2 courtesy of Stanford University

PetAirapy’s surface and air disinfectant systems are engineered to provide fast disinfection rates of Canine Parvovirus and other microorganisms that spread infection in animal care businesses.
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What is Canine Parvovirus?

Canine Parvovirus Type 2 (also called Parvo or CPV / CPV2) is a highly contagious viral infection in dogs that attacks dividing cells and white blood cells, particularly those in the lining of the stomach.

Parvo can manifest in two different forms. The most common form attacks the gastrointestinal tract. The less common form attacks the heart muscles of very young puppies, which can be life-threatening, or leave the puppy with a heart condition for the remainder of his life. The latter mainly affects very young puppies who are not yet old enough for vaccinations.

Canine Parvovirus most often infects puppies 6-20 weeks old, however, dogs of all ages can fall victim to the disease.

What Causes Canine Parvo?

Canine Parvo is caused by a nasty viral infection. Because it is a virus and not a bacteria, antibiotics are not effective in killing Parvo in dogs. The virus leaves the body of an infected dog via stool. A healthy dog can contract the virus as easily as sniffing the feces left by an infected dog. Humans can also carry the virus on their shoes, clothing, hands, etc. Canine Parvovirus has been shown to live on surfaces for months. It can live in the soil for as much as 1 year, as it is highly resistant, even to weather changes.

What Causes Canine Parvo?

Canine Parvo is caused by a nasty viral infection. Because it is a virus and not a bacteria, antibiotics are not effective in killing Parvo in dogs. The virus leaves the body of an infected dog via stool. A healthy dog can contract the virus as easily as sniffing the feces left by an infected dog. Humans can also carry the virus on their shoes, clothing, hands, etc. Canine Parvovirus has been shown to live on surfaces for months. It can live in the soil for as much as 1 year, as it is highly resistant, even to weather changes.

What Causes Canine Parvo?

Canine Parvo is caused by a nasty viral infection. Because it is a virus and not a bacteria, antibiotics are not effective in killing Parvo in dogs. The virus leaves the body of an infected dog via stool. A healthy dog can contract the virus as easily as sniffing the feces left by an infected dog. Humans can also carry the virus on their shoes, clothing, hands, etc. Canine Parvovirus has been shown to live on surfaces for months. It can live in the soil for as much as 1 year, as it is highly resistant, even to weather changes.

How is Parvo in Dogs Transmitted?

Parvo in dogs can be transmitted by anything or anyone that comes in contact with infected feces or vomit. Feces is often carried on a dog’s hair or paws and can easily be transferred to a human’s body, clothing or shoes. Urban areas seem to be more susceptible to spreading Parvo, as the virus is carried on shoes, into our homes, and left for our dogs to be infected. If a dog sniffs or licks any contaminated surface or item like clothing, carpeting, food/water bowls, or crate, he will likely become infected.

What Are The Symptoms of Parvo?

Canine Parvovirus is a serious illness with devastating symptoms. It is recommend that the dog receive immediate veterinary care if any of these Parvo symptoms are identified:

1. Extreme vomiting and diarrhea. This is the first sign that something is undoubtedly wrong with the dog. The dog will be unable to keep anything in his system, whether it be food or just water. Stools can often become bloody and the severity can range from a slightly pink discoloration to an almost gruesome sight. (View examples of Parvo-induced stool: 1, 2, 3)

2. Loss of appetite. Most dogs will refuse any food or water. Mixed with the vomiting and diarrhea, this can lead to dehydration quite quickly. Parvo causes tenderness and pain in the abdominal area as well, making appetites even less.

3. Weight loss. Parvo virus attacks the gastrointestinal tract of puppies and dogs, leaving them unable to take in nutrients from food and water. Left untreated, this can lead to fast weight loss.

4. Lethargy and/or depression. Dogs suffering with Canine Parvovirus will often feel run down, weak and uninterested in their normal routine or play.

5. Fever. A fever can develop as the virus progresses. Alternatively, some dogs can suffer from lowered body temperatures, or hypothermia.

How Long Does Canine Parvovirus Last?

If proper treatment is sought from a veterinarian immediately to control the severe vomiting, diarrhea and subsequent dehydration, dogs can usually recover in about a week’s time. However, the dog can be contagious for up to 6 weeks after initial symptoms have shown.

Canine Parvovirus, or CPV, can live for months on surfaces and up to a year in ground soil. Disposal of bedding, bowls, and crates, as well as removing feces immediately from the yard and environment will help to keep the virus contained and limit the spread.

How is Canine Parvo Treated?

As with most canine related illness treatments of this caliber, Parvo treatment consists of:

Syringe of medication to treat Parvovirus in dogsBecause Parvo is a virus, antibiotics are not effective. Medications such as anti-nausea (Metoclopramide or Cerenia), anti-diarrheal (Loperamide) and antiemetic to stop vomiting (Cerenia is also a popular choice here) will be used to treat the symptoms.

IV or sub-Q fluids may also be used to keep the dog hydrated and nourished.

Vitamin C moleculesThe best treatment is to support the immune system of the dog to aid his body’s natural methods of fighting off Canine Parvovirus. Keep the dog calm, warm, and comfortable while replenishing the fluids and nutrients he has lost.

Adding Vitamin C (L-ascorbate) to your dog’s diet while he is recovering frm Parvo can help to boost his immune system, and give him the extra protection as his body fights the virus. You can provide 500 mg per pound of body weight.

Oregano herb used in treating Parvo in dogs

Antiviral herbs are natural soldiers to combat the virus in your dog’s body – something antibiotics cannot do. Herbs such as echinacea, licorice root, garlic, and oregano are all antiviral and safe to administer to your dog. 

Discuss these options with your vet before adding them to your dog’s diet.

Dog crate ready for isolationBecause this virus is highly contagious and resistant, isolating an ill dog is key in protecting the health of other dogs, whether in the same neighborhood, daycare facility, or pet store.

Keeping the dog away from other dogs is not only important for the health of other dogs, but for his health as well.  His immune system is severely compromised while he is recovering from Parvovirus.

<strong>Dogs suffering from this virus can easily contract a secondary illness or infection.</strong>

Pillow for dogs with Parvo to rest

Plenty of fluids.  This is most important for a dog recovering from Parvo.  The severe vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration quickly.  Offer him plenty of fresh water and monitor how much he is drinking.

Plenty of rest.  Maintain a limited exercise or play routine while your dog recovers.  Even as he starts to feel better, he may want to romp and play more often, but he needs his energy to fight the virus.

Bland diet.  Once the dog is able to keep down fluids, a bland diet is introduced so as to not upset the stomach further.  Offer him plain white rice with boiled chicken breasts in several small meals per day.

Isolation.  Keep your dog isolated and away from other dogs until cleared by your vet.  Isolation is recommended until the dog is no longer contagious or shedding the virus, which is usually about 6 weeks.

How Can You Prevent Parvo?

Vaccination is the most dependable method of preventing Parvo. However, young puppies are the most susceptible as they can contract Parvo before they are old enough to receive the vaccines. Until the puppy is vaccinated, he should be kept away from areas where large numbers of dog congregate, such as dog parks, pet stores, daycare facilities, or groomers.

Vaccination procedures are important for every pet care facility. Requiring proof of vaccination against Parvo, and other diseases, before any dog is brought your facility is the first line of defense for your business.

Adult dogs should have their records reviewed to ensure a Parvo vaccine was administered. Titer testing can also be done to determine if a dog has a natural immunity built to the virus. However, a positive result from titer testing does not guarantee the dog will have enough antibodies to keep him safe from Parvo. Discuss options with your vet about prevention for your dog and his specific needs.

Proper sanitation and isolation techniques are vital in containing the virus and avoiding an outbreak. Canine Parvovirus is not only very contagious, it is exceptionally resistant and can linger on surfaces for months.

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