Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Protecting your Dog from Canine Parvovirus

Cajin - now Scraps beat Parvo


What It Is  
Canine parvovirus is a contagious virus mainly affecting dogs. The disease is highly contagious and is spread by direct or indirect contact with infected their feces. Parvo can be especially severe in puppies that are not protected by maternal antibodies or vaccination. It has two distinct presentations; a cardiac and intestinal form. Common signs of the intestinal form are extreme vomiting and dysentery. The cardiac form causes respiratory or cardiovascular failure in young puppies. Treatment often involves veterinary hospitalization. Vaccines can prevent this infection, but mortality can reach 91% in untreated cases. Canine parvovirus will not infect humans.

Where It Comes From
Parvo is highly contagious and is spread by direct or indirect contact with infected their feces. The disease can be easily spread by shoes, clothing and other objects that came into contact with inflected stool. Fleas can also be a transmitter of Parvo. Where the disease originally commenced is unknown. 

Dogs that develop the disease show symptoms of the illness within 3 to 10 days. The symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, fever, and diarrhea (usually bloody). Diarrhea and vomiting result in dehydration and secondary infections can set in. Due to dehydration, the dog's electrolyte balance can become critically affected. Because the normal intestinal lining is also compromised, blood and protein leak into the intestines leading to anemia and loss of protein, and endotoxins escaping into the bloodstream, causing endotoxemia. Dogs have a distinctive odor in the later stages of the infection. The white blood cell level falls, further weakening the dog. Any or all of these factors can lead to shock and death. The first sign of canine parvovirus is lethargy. Usually the second symptoms would be loss of appetite or diarrhea followed by vomiting.

Survival rate depends on how quickly the parvovirus is diagnosed, the age of the animal and how aggressive the treatment is. Treatment usually involves extensive hospitalization, due to severe dehydration and damage to the intestines and bone marrow. Treatment ideally also consists of crystalloid IV fluids and/or colloids, antinausea injections, and antibiotic injections. IV fluids are administered and antinausea and antibiotic injections are given subcutaneously, intramuscularly, or intravenously. A blood plasma transfusion from a donor dog that has already survived parvovirus is sometimes used to provide passive immunity to the ill dog. Once the dog can keep fluids down, the IV fluids are gradually discontinued, and very bland food slowly introduced. Oral antibiotics are administered for a number of days depending on the white blood cell count and the dog's ability to fight off secondary infection. However, even with hospitalization, there is no guarantee that the dog will be cured and survive.

A puppy with minimal symptoms can recover in 2 or 3 days if the IV fluids are begun as soon as symptoms are noticed and the parvovirus test confirms the diagnosis. If more severe, depending on treatment, puppies can remain ill from 5 days up to 2 weeks. However, even with hospitalization, there is no guarantee that the dog will be cured and survive.

A dog that successfully recovers from parvovirus generally remains contagious for up to three weeks, but it is possible they may remain contagious for up to six.

Untreated cases of canine parvovirus have a mortality rate approaching 91%. With aggressive treatment, survival rates may approach 80-95%.

Prevention is the only way to ensure that a puppy or dog remains healthy as the disease is extremely virulent and contagious. The virus is extremely resilient and has been found to survive in feces and other organic material such as soil for over a year. It can endure extreme cold and hot temperatures.

Puppies are generally vaccinated in a series of doses, extending from the earliest time that the immunity derived from the mother wears off until after that passive immunity is absolutely gone. Older puppies (16 weeks plus) are given three vaccinations three to four weeks apart. The duration of immunity of vaccines has been found to be at least three years after the initial puppy series and a booster a year later.

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