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PARVO VIRUS IN DOGS

Unfortunately this time of year with all the new puppies being purchased as new Christmas Gifts, those of us who work at the Veterinarian Clinics start seeing them come in to the clinics with Parvo Virus.


What is Parvo Virus?


Parvo is a highly contagious viral disease most commonly seen in puppies under the age of one. Most commonly seen in puppies between the ages of 6-16 weeks and typically before they can complete their puppy vaccination series.

The virus is spread through the feces of an infected dog. The housefly is also a common carrier. The fly lands in the yard of a dog that already has Parvo, lands on the feces and carries the virus on its body in to your yard. It can be that easy. If the fly lands on your pet’s paws or nose or anywhere else on his body or his belonging, i.e., food and water bowls, blankets, etc. It can contract the disease within seconds. The virus can be carried in on clothes, shoes and even your hair once you’ve come in contact with it.


 There are three common manifestations that we see.


1. Asymptomatic, meaning we do not see any signs. This usually occurs in vaccinated dogs or dogs over a year old.


2. Intestinal. Known as Enteritis. This virus causes extreme damage to the intestinal tract. It can cause sloughing of the cells that line the intestinal tract leaving your pet wide open to a secondary bacterial infection. Characterized by lethargy, diarrhea, (often dark and bloody), vomiting, (often severe), fever, low white blood cell count and lack of appetite.
Onset of the virus can be quick. Your puppy can be playing happy one day and severely sick the next day. Often the onset is 12 hours or less. Incubation time from exposure to clinical signs is typically 3-10 days. This means that if your puppy was exposed to Parvo 3 days ago, you may not know that he is sick until up to a week.


Many people purchase puppies that appear healthy and happy and then are completely devastated 7-10 days later to see that healthy puppy become severely sick so suddenly.


 Parvo Virus is diagnosed by your Veterinarian’s physical exam, signalment (age, breed and vaccine status) and a Parvo Test that can be run in your Veterinarian’s office.


3. The last manifestation we see is Cardiac. This form is the least seen, largely in part to widespread vaccination. The Cardiac form causes severe inflammation of the heart muscle. It can cause difficult breathing and sudden death. Additional diagnostics to treat Parvo can be Blood work and Radiographs to rule out other causes of diarrhea and to see how low the puppy’s white blood cell count is.



IS THERE A CURE FOR PARVO VIRUS?


 The answer is NO. The preventative measures that you can take are to make sure your puppy receives a complete vaccination series. Puppies can receive their first vaccines between 6-8 weeks of age. They need to continue their vaccine “boosters” every 3 weeks until they are 16-18 weeks of age.


It is important to make sure that your puppy receives it’s vaccines from a licensed Veterinarian. Many people purchase vaccines “over the counter” and unfortunately these are the puppies that we often see back with Parvo. Mostly this happens because of incorrect administration by the owner, lack of proper temperature control of the vaccine. (Owner brings it home and leaves it on the counter where it reaches room temperature) and overall poor quality control.


If you plan on adopting or purchasing a new puppy, please plan on the first few months being the most expensive. If you do not factor in the Veterinary expenses, your puppy will not be the only one who suffers. Your family will.


WHY THE SUFFER THE HEARTBREAK?


I have witnessed many heartbreaking situations with families who obtain their first puppy but do not take the preventative measures by completing the puppy vaccination series or abiding by “new puppy laws” and taking measures to prevent them from being in situations where they can potentially be exposed to infectious diseases. Most often this is simply lack of education in owning a new puppy, not neglect.


Exposure to infectious diseases like Parvo can happen by taking your puppy out to places where multiple dogs congregate and not knowing the other dogs’ vaccine histories. Puppy stores, dog parks, sports complexes, are just a few examples where dogs are found with owners.




I have seen people who spend extensive amounts of money in buying dog crates, fancy beds, outdoor kennel runs, leashes, harnesses, etc. only to lose their puppies in a matter of days, to Parvo, because they did not know that they needed to do more than one puppy vaccine.


Common things we hear from people in the Veterinary Clinic are:


1. I only thought he needed one vaccine.


2. I did not know there was a “puppy vaccine series”


3. The Breeder or Pet Store, told us he was done with his vaccines (often a simple misunderstanding)


4. I just thought the Veterinarian wanted my money


This is heartbreaking to those of us in the Veterinary Clinic as well as to any pet lover. We see between 5-15 cases each season and often more. Most of these cases can be prevented by vaccines and additional preventative measures. It is those of us in the Veterinary Clinic who watches the family and the puppy suffer and often times it is us who has to euthanize the puppy because of the high expense of Supportive Care.


SUPPORTIVE CARE


There is no Cure. There is only Supportive Care. Supportive Care involves Re-Hydration and Antibiotic Therapy. Replacing fluid loss through the vomiting and diarrhea. This is the single most important treatment.

 Intravenous administration of a balanced Electrolyte Solution is preferred but in less severe cases, Subcutaneous Fluids Administration or Oral fluid Administration can be used. In extremely severe cases, blood transfusions may be needed. Antibiotics are used to control or prevent secondary bacterial infections. The Mortality of severe infections is high and home care without the help of professional Veterinary Care, can be very difficult.


Parvo Virus Supportive Care can be expensive. Often it can cost the client between $200-$500 dollars a day for several days to a week.



Parvo Viruses are highly resistant. A 1:32 dilution of household bleach (1/2 cup bleach to a gallon of water) can inactivate the Virus. The bleach needs to have adequate exposure time and proper concentration to work effectively. Often objects are left to stand after being sprayed with the solution for a minimum of 15 minutes.

Vaccinating is the BEST Preventative and much less expensive in the long run!

Please stay current on your pet’s vaccinations. Complete your puppy series until your pet reaches the age of at least 16 weeks and sometimes up to 18 weeks depending on when they received their first one. Vaccinate your Adult dog annually until your Veterinarian tells you otherwise.


Educate yourself about what it will take to implement a new puppy into your family! Have fun with your new furry family member, but please make smart, educated decisions when it comes to his health! You and your kids will be thankful!


 Thank you for your continued Support of the Az Pet Professionals! Arizona's Preferred Network of Pet Professionals! From all of us! We work for YOU!






















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