Canine Parvovirus (CPV) is a contagious disease attacking cells that rapidly reproduce. It can occur at any age but is ordinarily seen in puppies around 6 to 20 weeks old. There are two types of CPV, intestinal and cardiac. Intestinal CPV is most common and is distinguished by diarrhea, decreased appetite, vomiting, and weight loss. Cardiac CPV is usually only seen in very young puppies and attacks their heart muscles, typically resulting in death. Vaccination is extremely important and can help prevent Canine Parvovirus. Certain breeds, namely Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers, are particularly susceptible to infection so extra caution should be taken.
CPV can be contracted directly or indirectly. Most dogs obtain the virus via fecal-oral contact. Heavy concentrations of Canine Parvovirus are excreted in an infected dog’s stools, so if a healthy dog sniffs or licks contaminated feces, it can contract the disease. Even indirect contact with fecal matter on an owner’s shoes can bring the disease into an environment. The virus is extremely resilient and can live in soil for up to one year, and it is resistant to weather changes and most cleaning products. If you suspect CPV to be present in your home, bleach is the only household disinfectant known to kill the virus. Should you bleach any surface your pet comes into contact with, be sure they are not present and do not ingest the bleach. Also, cats cannot contract parvovirus, but they can be carriers for it. If you have a household with multiple pets, it is important to be sure that one isn’t infecting another.
Possible symptoms of Canine Parvovirus:
- Diarrhea (often containing blood)
- Bloodshot eyes
- Dry mouth
How is CPV diagnosed and treated?
Canine Parvovirus is diagnosed with a physical examination, biochemical tests, urine analysis, and X-rays and ultrasounds of the abdomen. When bringing your dog in for its exam, we might also ask for a brief history of the past few days’ activities and when you first noticed changes in your pet’s behavior.
CPV is a viral infection, and currently, there is no cure. Because the infection itself cannot be cured, treatment focuses on curing the symptoms it creates and preventing any secondary infection. Hospitalization is often necessary because of the frequentness and threatening nature of dehydration that is commonly associated with CPV. Most canines who face a life-threatening prognosis also suffer from dehydration. If it is not already occurring, the veterinarian might be able to prescribe medication that can lessen vomiting and reduce nausea, in an attempt to prevent dehydration. The survival rate for adult dogs diagnosed with Canine Parvovirus is high and is only slightly lower for puppies.
If you think your pet might have CPV, contact our office immediately so we can schedule an exam.