Canine parvovirus infection is a contagious disease that is also life-threatening. It is known to infect members of the canine family like dogs, foxes, wolves, and coyotes. The infection is known to have high rates of mortality, especially when it is not treated. The disease can be quite worrying for dog owners.
Do you have a pet dog and want to know what this infection could mean? How do you know if your dog has the infection and what can you do about it? Looking for ways to keep your loyal friend from catching parvo?
This could be your lucky find. Read on to know more.
Types of Canine Parvovirus Infection
The viral infections of two types, based on the part of the body it affects.
1. Cardiac Type
The Cardiac type causes failure of the respiratory or cardiac systems in young puppies. The virus attacks the heart muscles, which are not developed enough to withstand the attack. Most of these cases lead to the death of the puppies. This type is usually passed on from an infected mother to the puppies.
However, this form of canine parvovirus infection is not too common.
2. The Intestinal Type
The Intestinal type is passed on through contact, which includes direct and indirect means. The virus divides and enters the bloodstream and attacks cells within the body. The bone marrow and lymph nodes may be severely affected. It goes on to infect the intestines, leading to sepsis and further, death.
Causes Of Parvo In Pets
The main factors that lead to catching a parvovirus infection are:
a. Direct contact with an infected dog, or its feces: Infected dog’s stool contains large amounts of the virus. When your healthy dog sniffs this, it may develop the disease.
b. Indirect Transmission: If your shoe, hands, clothing has been exposed to the virus, it becomes an easy pathway to reach your dog, leading to infection. Shared objects with an infected dog can also cause parvovirus infection in a healthy dog.
c. Inadequate Immunization: Failure to administer regular vaccination schedules can leave your dog prone to parvovirus infection.
Is My Dog Prone To Parvovirus Infection?
All dogs that have not been vaccinated are prone to parvovirus infection.
Puppies between six weeks and six months old are vulnerable to the infection. At this stage, their immune system is still developing. Hence, exposure to the virus can easily lead to infection.
It has been found that some breeds of dogs are particularly susceptible to the infection. These include Doberman pinschers, Rottweilers, Labrador retrievers, German shepherds, American Staffordshire terriers and English Springer Spaniels.
Poor sanitation, improper hygiene practices, and overcrowding increase the risk of infection. The virus thrives in wet and warm environments.
Symptoms Of Parvo In Pets
The infection may seem mild in some dogs, while it may be life-threatening in others.
Here are the signs that can help you understand if your dog has the parvovirus infection:
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhea, with smelly stools
- Bloody feces, that indicate bleeding in the intestine
- Pain or bloating in the abdomen
- Low body temperature, known as hypothermia
- Weight loss
- Increased heartbeat
These symptoms usually appear within days or a week after contracting the parvovirus.
Your dog may appear weak and have sunken eyes. Gums in the mouth become dry and red.
Excessive vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration. This can prove fatal and can lead to death. Your dog may suffer severe dehydration within 24 hours of catching the virus.
In the case of intestinal parvovirus infections, the lining of the intestine can be damaged. Blood and proteins may flow into the blood. This can lead to severe anemia and a major drop in white blood cells.
Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Parvo In Pets
This section looks at treatments and measures you can do at home, to reduce symptoms.
Please keep in mind that these are not a complete solution to cure parvovirus infection in your dog. Being a fatal infection, it is advisable to consult the vet, depending on the severity and persistence of symptoms.
1. Keep Your Dog Hydrated:
This is an essential step to do in case of parvovirus infection. Hydration helps to maintain fluids that the body losses through vomiting and diarrhea. Provide your dog clean water to drink. Oatmeal water is also effective for hydration.
Use an electrolyte solution such as Pedialyte to maintain its levels in the body.
You can give a dose of electrolyte solution every hour, or add it to your dog’s food.
Ginger helps to relieve vomiting, nausea. It also reduces gastric troubles and bloating of the abdomen.
To make ginger tea, grate a tablespoon of fresh ginger and add it to boiling water. After about five minutes of boiling, take out the ginger and allow it to cool.
You can give your dog 1-2 teaspoons of this tea every two hours. Use ginger with caution as it can lower blood pressure and consistency.
4. Chamomile Tea:
Chamomile tea is a safe and effective remedy. It soothes gastrointestinal discomforts like pain and bloating. It has antimicrobial properties and keeps the dog hydrated.
You can make a solution of chamomile tea with boiled water. This is to be given once it completely cools down. Around a tablespoon, every two hours may work. The dosage depends on how big your dog is.
Strong doses of chamomile may cause discomforts. It is not safe for pregnant dogs and those that are allergic to it.
5. Colloidal Silver:
Colloidal silver has antimicrobial properties. It relieves discomforts of the digestive system.
You can calculate the dose as a teaspoon for every ten pounds your dog weighs. This can be given directly or by mixing with food or drinking water.
When To See The Vet?
If symptoms persist, consult a doctor. In case you are trying treatments at home, do not delay in getting medical help if the condition does not improve in 6 hours.
Remember that this is a fatal disease, which can lead to death within hours of infection.
Veterinary doctors diagnose parvovirus infection through clinical examination of symptoms and lab tests.
The vet may conduct an Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbant Assay (ELISA) test to establish parvovirus infection. This can detect the infection in your dog’s stools.
Other tests include blood tests, urine analysis, ultrasound, radiograph or polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Lower count of white blood cells may point to the parvovirus infection.
Medical Treatment For Treat Parvo In Pets
As with most parvovirus infections, there is no specific cure for canine parvovirus infection. Treatments are done to cure symptoms and prevent other infections, to which the dog may be vulnerable.
Inadequate treatment may lead to death due to extreme dehydration, secondary bacterial infections or intestinal bleeding. This is particularly fatal in puppies, whose immune systems are not fully developed.
The vet decides the appropriate mode of treatment, taking into consideration factors such as the age and health condition of your dog. Aggressive treatments cannot be done on dogs too young or old. Other factors include immunity disorders and specific sensitivity or allergy to a type of treatment.
Treatments prescribed include medicines to control vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. Doses of antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent secondary bacterial infections.
Since dehydration is a major issue with parvovirus infection, maintaining fluid levels in the body is necessary. Clinical procedures adopted include intravenous fluids, with regular monitoring of electrolyte levels.
Nutrient and vitamin supplements can be given to boost immunity.
Some cases may require blood transfusions to regain balance or blood cells and proteins. This involves receiving blood plasma from a dog that has developed antibodies to the parvovirus from the previous infection.
Recovering From The Infection
Despite receiving treatment for parvovirus infection, your dog may still be weak.
Its immune system hasn’t been fully restored and is still weak. This leaves it prone to developing all sorts of illnesses.
While the dog is recovering, it is advisable to maintain a simple diet, which is easy to digest and light on the stomach. You may choose from cooked rice, boiled chicken, egg or potato, in small servings. Ask the vet to advise diet plans.
You may include immunity boosters in your dog’s diet to supplement its immune system.
In the stages of recovery, your dog can still spread the parvovirus to other dogs. Isolating your dog from other dogs for a few months can control the infection from spreading. This will also help your dog to recover better and reduce the risk of contracting another illness immediately.
Complete recovery from a canine parvovirus infection cannot guarantee that it may not recur again.
Prevention Of Parvo In Pets
The parvovirus infection is one of the most dreaded diseases affecting dogs. However, there are some measures you can take to reduce the risk of infection.
a. The best way to prevent the parvovirus infection is to get your dog regularly immunized.
Puppies are usually administered combination vaccines, which protect them from various diseases. They are to be vaccinated at six, nine and twelve months. Ensure that all dogs are given booster vaccines.
Restrict your dog’s interaction with other dogs, until the entire course of immunization is complete. It is advisable that they are not exposed to other dogs until two weeks after the immunization.
Restrain taking your dog to places like pet stores, parks or streets. Besides the risk of contact with other dogs, these may harbor virus from feces of infected dogs.
At all times, avoid contact with infected dogs and situations that expose your dog to the virus.
Despite regular immunization procedures, there are chances that your dog may not develop the desired immunity. In these cases, they remain prone to the infection.
b. Maintaining good hygienic practices is also essential to prevent the disease. Ensure proper disposal of feces and waste matter to control the virus from spreading.
c. Avoid stress in your dog. Stress is linked to physical and mental changes in the body. These changes can negatively affect body mechanisms that sustain overall health and may reduce natural resistance to diseases. Exposure to parvovirus in such a condition can easily result in infection.
d. If you may were in contact with sick dogs or exposed to their feces, be sure to wash and disinfect yourself before mingling with other dogs. Also, keep in mind that the virus can be transmitted through objects like shoes, clothing, food bowls, and floors.
e. Any area that may have been contaminated, or exposed to an infected dog, needs to be disinfected with bleach. Remember that common soaps and cleaning liquids cannot destroy the parvovirus. Unless the area is thoroughly decontaminated, the virus may infect other dogs in the area.