When you get a dog there are a range of issues that you need to be aware of, especially if you get a puppy. Vaccinations, feeding requirements, and training are all important, but understanding the risks presented by parvovirus should be at the very top of your priority list. When untreated, parvovirus can have a mortality rate of over 90%, and young puppies under the age of sixteen weeks are at the most risk. Here’s what you need to know to keep your dog safe.
What is canine parvovirus?
Canine parvovirus falls under an umbrella that contains several illnesses that attack the stomach and gastrointestinal system. While highly contagious amongst dogs, canine parvovirus cannot be transmitted to humans. However, humans can carry the infection and transmit it to other dogs. So if you come into contact with a sick dog, you should clean your hands and any other items that may carry contagion thoroughly before you touch any other dogs. Our perspective on parvovirus is constantly being updated, but it remains one of the most dangerous illnesses a dog can contract.
How to spot parvovirus
Because treating parvovirus in dogs early is one of the best ways to ensure recovery, it is important to be aware of the common symptoms. The most common and noticeable symptoms of canine parvovirus are:
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Abdominal swelling and bloating
- Bloody, liquid diarrhea
As you can see, this is an illness that can easily be mistaken for other issues based on its symptoms. For example, weight loss and lethargy are also symptoms of diabetes mellitus in dogs. Parvovirus also causes serious abdominal pain. If you have concerns about the possibility of parvovirus in your dog, try putting light pressure on its abdomen. If your dog reacts by yelping or trying to get away, this is a sign of abdominal pain and inflammation.
Even if you are uncertain about whether your dog has parvovirus or another illness, these symptoms warrant quickly contacting the vet. Your vet will be able to use a test that will indicate whether your dog has parvovirus. The results will be available that same day. If the test comes back positive, your dog will likely be kept in the clinic or sent to an animal hospital for swift treatment. If you have other dogs in your home, it is wise to have them preemptively tested. Parvovirus can be present in dogs for up to seven days before symptoms develop, but will be contagious before symptoms show in most cases.
When it comes to canine parvovirus, prevention is the best cure. This is a nasty illness that can have long-term repercussions, even when treated promptly. Nonetheless, parvo is not a death sentence and vets have been developing and refining treatment options consistently. If the infection is spotted and treated quickly, the provision of IV fluids, electrolytes, and medication for the symptoms and any secondary infections is usually sufficient to promote recovery. However, if your dog’s condition progressed before it started to show symptoms, it may be necessary for a vet to provide food via a tube alongside plasma transfusions. At this stage recovery is less likely, but not impossible. Try to stay calm and remember that bringing your dog to the vet as soon as you notice an issue was the right choice.