The dog parvo virus is probably the most common viral illness of dogs at the moment. The virus is extremely small (the Latin word for small is “parvo”) – just a few grams of stool can contain millions of virus particles. The dog parvo virus has been known and identifiable since the late 70’s and can be transmitted by direct or indirect contact with vomit or diarrhea from an infected dog.
The Canine parvovirus (CPV), also referred to as “the dog parvo”, attacks the intestinal tract, white blood cells, and in some rare cases the heart muscle. The common form of the dog parvo has a predilection for rapidly dividing cells (similar to cancer) such as the cells of intestinal lining and that is why it causes diarrhea and ulcerative enteritis. When the virus lashes out and attacks this type of cells, it makes dogs and puppies not being able to assimilate or absorb nutrients or liquids.
Symptoms of the dog parvo can take anywhere between 7 to 10 days before they are visible. In the early stages, symptoms that are likely to be noticed by the dog owner are a lack of energy and a loss of appetite. As a result, dogs infected with the parvo virus will soon show clear symptoms of dehydration and malnutrition. As the virus spreads, the dog parbo symptoms are characterized by high fever, severe diarrhea, quite often bloody, vomiting, lethargy and severe dehydration. If your dog, but especially your new puppy, begins exhibiting any of these symptoms, see a veterinarian right away. Because even though the dog parvo virus can also infect adult dogs, it is more often found in small puppies because of their low immune system. Parvovirus requires swift action to help an infected dog survive as when parvo is involved, every hour counts.
The severity of the disease depends upon the age of the dog, presence of maternal antibody, size of the virus dose and the breed of the infected dog. Though many dogs become highly ill due to this viral disease, breeds like Doberman Pinschers and Pit Bull Terriers may reveal clinical symptoms to a very severe degree.
According to conventional veterinarians, there is no known cure for the dog parvo. Conventional treatment is, therefore, mostly supportive and consists of maintaining the dog’s body fluids, balancing electrolyte levels and maintaining body temperature. But even if a dog survives the initial bout of dog parvo, there is still a high risk of collapsing during the recovery period. You should get your dog immunized to protect them in case they come into contact with dogs that have the illness. Most veterinarians recommend that young puppies to be vaccinated every 3 to 4 weeks beginning when the pup is 6 weeks of age and continuing until it is 20 weeks old.
The dog parvo virus is most common in places where dogs congregate, such as parks, animal shelters or even at dog shows. Dogs may take in the virus from sniffing or consuming contaminated fecal matter, from cleansing himself, or from consuming food off the ground or flooring. That is why dogs that spend their time confined to a house or a yard and are not in contact with other dogs have much less chance of exposure to the canine parvo virus. You must also be aware of the fact that the dog parvo virus may be even brought home to your dog on shoes and even automobile tires. If you allow your dog to live outside, then remember to alter drinking water on a regular basis because there is a chance that the water can contain parvo virus (carried by birds on their feets or feathers or in their feces).
CPV is very resistant and can remain in feces-contaminated ground for five months or more if conditions are favorable.
Be aware of the fact that the dog parvo symptoms resemble other diseases (like poisoning or worms) and are often misdiagnosed. The only way to know if a dog has the Parvo virus is through a positive diagnostic test.