Parvo virus was first identified in 1978 and within two years’ it had spread all over the world. In addition, over the years, the parvo virus has mutated into at least two different strains. Every case of canine parvo virus, or CPV, comes from these two strains.
Every different species has its own parvo virus and it cannot be spread outside of the species, so there is a human parvo virus, a canine parvo virus, a feline parvo virus, and so on. However, it can be spread by contact. For instance, if your cat would wander through your neighbor’s yard and would pick up the virus on her feet, she can track it inside of your house and infect your dog. Sadly enough, my neighbour’s puppy contracted parvo virus. The puppy had all of the classic dog parvo symptoms, yet my neighbour really did not know what was wrong until he took the puppy to the vet.
Once he did that, parvo treatment began immediately. After several days of intensive treatment for parvo virus, the puppy was free to come home. The puppy was lucky. Many dogs die from parvo virus before they can be treated.
The parvo virus works in two ways either through the intestines or through the heart. When a dog gets an intestinal infection, it is picked up by the animal through oral contact with contaminated feces. Simply put, your dog would have to come into contaminated feces from another dog. The intestinal dog parvo symptoms occur when the virus attacks the bone marrow, rapidly dividing cells in the intestinal crypts and the lymph nodes.
This allows normally occurring bacteria from the intestines to enter the blood stream to make the animal septic. The virus can be shed in the stool for up to three weeks thus making this a very contagious disease for pets that have not been inoculated.
The cardio form of this infection is usually seen in puppies that are infected before birth or shortly thereafter. It is noteworthy that the cardiac form of CPV is not as common since the mother passes immunity on to her pups from birth. The parvo virus will then attack the heart in the infected puppy and death will occur shortly afterwards. Dog parvo symptoms usually present themselves within 3 to 10 days of contact. They include the following: lethargy, vomiting, fever and diarrhea. The diarrhea can cause severe dehydration and secondary infections.
The dog will not usually die from the virus but from a secondary infection. Survival rate depends on how quickly CPV is diagnosed and treatment is begun. When the case is not caught early the best treatment option is an IV through which fluids are pushed to re-hydrate the animal more quickly, in addition anti-nausea and antibiotic shots may be given intramuscular. The prognosis is good with proper care but an absolute death sentence without it.
There have been a few reports that the human antiviral, Tamiflu, can be effective in treating CPV but there are no studies to substantiate this. A veterinarian will advise you to give your pet a parvo shot about eight weeks after they are weaned. With the prevalence of the virus and its ability to kill some precaution should be taken to protect your canine.