This is a highly contagious and deadly virus that attacks white blood cells and the gastrointestinal tract of puppies, dogs and wild canids like foxes, wolves, coyotes.
HOW IS PARVOVIRUS SPREAD:
The virus is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated feces (stool), environment or people. It can also contaminate kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars, leashes, toys, clothing and the hands of people who handle infected dogs.
The virus is found in high concentration in the infected dog’s stool. When another dog sniffs the infected feces (or anus), that dog can contract the disease.
Water borne transmission is also possible and the virus preads quicker during the months with heavier rainfall.
The virus is resistant to heat, cold, humidity and drying and can even survive in the environment for years. The climate of Barbados makes it a perfect environment for the virus to continue to survive
It can be spread from place to place by insects, on the hair or feet of dogs or even contaminated cages, shoes or other objects that are moved from place to place.
WHICH DOGS ARE AT RISK?
ALL dogs are at risk, BUT, puppies generally less than a year or dogs that have not been completely vaccinated have an increased risk of infection.
Most cases seen are within the 6 weeks to 6 months range
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF ‘PARVO’?
Loss of appetite
Vomiting with or without blood
Fever or in severe cases sometimes low body temperature (hypothermia)
Diarrhea, sometimes very severe and with blood
Severe weight loss
Most deaths from ‘parvo’ occur within 48-72 hours following the onset of clinical signs if not treated.
HOW IS PARVOVIRUS DIAGNOSED?
Fecal testing is the most widely used test to confirm the diagnosis of Parvovirus
Results are known within minutes
HOW IS PARVOVIRUS TREATED?
There is no specific drug available that will kill the virus in infected puppies or dogs
Treatment is aimed at treating the body systems so that the dog’s immunity can fight the viral infection
Treatment includes :
Immediate intensive care to treat the dehydration, electrolyte and protein loss
Controlling the vomiting and the diarrhea
Preventing secondary infection
Preventing low body temperatures (hypothermia)
Preventing low blood glucose ( hypoglycemia)
HOW CAN PARVOVIRUS BE PREVENTED?
Vaccination and good hygiene are critical components to preventing the virus
Mopping areas with diluted bleach (1 part bleach to 10 parts water)
Cleaning all water and food bowls regularly
Prompt removal and disposal of waste material
Any puppy showing signs should be taken to your Veterinarian immediately
Don’t take your puppies on walks, to the beach, to play parks or training classes until 2-4 weeks after the final vaccine is given
Proper hygiene when dealing with waste material. Wash hands thoroughly and use gloves
Puppies gain immunity through their mother’s milk during nursing
The immunity from the mother’s milk may wear off before the immunity from the vaccinations mature and this gap in time is when puppies may become ill
Even vaccinated puppies may occasionally become sick because sometimes the immunity from the mother’s milk may affect the response from the vaccination
Puppies should be vaccinated from 6 weeks of age and receive a minimum of 3 vaccines over the course of 3 months.
We have found that certain breeds are more susceptible and should receive an additional 4th vaccine. These include:
Rottweilers and Rottweiler crossed dogs
Dobermans and Doberman crossed dogs
Akitas and Akita crossed dogs
Vaccination of older dogs to eliminate the ‘carrier status’
WHAT NOT TO DO?
DON’T give your dog bleach orally
DON’T put bleach in your dog's drinking water or food.
DON’T vaccinate your own puppy or have a ‘breeder’ give the vaccines. You would not vaccinate your own child so don’t let anyone other than your Veterinarian administer the vaccine
If you suspect Parvovirus, DON’T treat your dog at home with glucose water or molasses
DON’T wait days after you notice your puppy is sick before taking him/her to your Veterinarian
DON’T take a recently infected puppy (which was treated and recovered) to dog communities, the beach or other areas where susceptible dogs may visit
If your dog recently had a litter, minimize the number of people interacting with the puppies and use diluted bleach foot baths for shoes before entering those areas and after leaving the areas