IS CANINE PARVOVIRUS A CONCERN?

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There are several different viruses that can affect our beloved pets at home. However, the main question that most pet owners experience is, ‘which viruses should I be scared of?’ Do not be scared, instead educate yourself with a few of them that are pertinent in your area and learn how to protect your small family member from them. Throughout the next few articles, we will go over some of the more prevalent viruses or conditions that you may want to keep yourself aware of, as an active pet owner. In the following article, we will discuss the concerns related to Canine Parvovirus and also answer a few common questions that come to mind.

Canine Parvovirus infection is a highly contagious virus, which mainly affects canines in their gastrointestinal system. It can also affect their cardiac system, but this is less common. It can be spread through unvaccinated canines, especially via the fecal-oral route. Commonly affected breeds are: Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Dachshunds and Pitbulls. Mainly puppies that are less than 8 months old or adults who are unvaccinated are seen to be at most risk. Puppies who are unvaccinated and are less than 7 weeks old, with poor maternal immunity, will prove to be high candidates. Unvaccinated canines are known to be 10x more prone to developing parvoviral enteritis. It has been proved in studies that intact males are noted to be more at risk than intact females.
Common signs associated with Parvovirus are lethargy, anorexia, dehydration, diarrhea & vomiting. Other signs you may also see are abdominal pain, fever, a high heart rate or low body temperature. If you see any of the signs mentioned above, please contact your local veterinarian as soon as possible. How will your veterinarian know that he or she is dealing with a case of Parvovirus? Your veterinarian will diagnose this virus based on your pet’s physical appearance and laboratory tests conducted. Based on blood work, your veterinarian may wish to perform further specific tests, such as: ELISA, fecal flotation or abdominal radiographs. This will help him or her to gain a better understanding of your dog’s health status. My dog has Parvovirus! Can it be treated? Treatment is initiated by controlling immediate problems at hand, such as vomiting, dehydration, blood pressure, electrolyte imbalances or pain. For chronic treatment, your pet may be placed on fluids and isolated from other animals in the clinic to prevent further spread of the virus. The patient may also receive medications to prevent further vomiting and pain. Bloodwork may also be repeated to monitor progress, until the patient is eating well again. Are there any ways to prevent my dog from contracting this virus? Yes, there are many ways! The best way to prevent your dog from experiencing Parvovirus is by vaccinating your him/her. The vaccine is considered a core vaccination. This means that your veterinarian will highly recommend giving your dog this vaccination as protocol. A modified-live vaccine can be given at: 6 – 8 weeks of age; then 10 – 12 weeks; followed by 14 – 16 weeks; a booster at every 1 year. Do not allow socialization with outside dogs until at least two weeks after the last vaccination. Dogs are known to be immune lifelong if they recover from the virus. However, it is strongly recommended that a solution of diluted bleach (1:32) should be used for disinfecting areas of contact and prevention of viral spread.
Please contact your veterinarian if any of the signs described in this article are noted in your pet. Unless your dog has received his complete series of vaccinations, please avoid public gatherings, such as: pet shops, puppy classes, training programs, doggy day cares, parks, kennels, etc. Do not allow your puppy or adult dog to be in contact with fecal waste from other dogs when walking. Avoid any dogs who are known to be infected at all costs. Please ensure your pet’s vaccinations are always up to date, to prevent spread of such contagious diseases.

Dr. H. Bhullar DVM

Dr. Sifti Bhullar, DVM

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