Parvovirus (commonly called Parvo) is a viral disease that
affects dogs. It is far more common in puppies than adult dogs
and can have serious ramifications for the infected animal,
including death. Parvo grows best in the rapidly dividing cells
of the dogís intestines. As the virus attacks and kills these
cells it causes massive diarrhea and halts or slows the
creation of white blood cells. In young puppies it can often
directly infect the heart, leading to death.
The symptoms of Parvo start with fever, depression, and
lethargy. The dog will usually experience a loss of appetite as
well and then eventually show more sever signs like vomiting and
diarrhea which is often bloody. Once the virus reaches this
stage dehydration and death usually follow.
Parvo is carried and transmitted by dogs. The vomit and feces
of an infected animal will also carry the virus which is rather
resilient and can survive outside the dogís body in the
surrounding environment for as long as nine months. Sometimes
an adult dog can be infected by the virus and show no symptoms
but act as a carrier transmitting the virus to the other
animals it comes into contact with.
There is no cure for Parvo. Dogs that are infected will die of
dehydration without treatment. That treatment primarily
consists of providing fluids, giving repeated blood
transfusions, and preventing dehydration. The mortality rate in
dogs affected by Parvo is about 20% if the dog receives
treatment in time. Without treatment, about 80% of those
infected will die from it. It is a very serious disease.
Editor's Note: Puppies donít die from Parvo virus but from the dehydration and hypoglycemia symptoms that are caused by Parvo. By effectively having your vet treat your dog, Parvo will eventually run it's course. Dogs that recover are immune to the disease going forward.
Parvo tends to affect some dog breeds more than others.
Dobermans, Rottweilers, and other black and tan dogs have a
greater chance of contracting the virus. The reason for this is
unknown but the fact that these dogs are at higher risk does not
mean that owners of other types of dogs can rest easily. Dogs of
any breed can become infected.
While there is no cure for Parvo, puppies can (and should) be
vaccinated against it at an early age. Most vets recommend
puppies be immunized starting at six weeks of age with
vaccinations continuing until twenty weeks of age. Proper
immunization is the best way to prevent a dog from contracting
Editor's Note: According to "The Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook" written by Delbert G. Carlson, DVM and James M. Griffin, MD, treatment includes fluid and electrolyte replacement, medication to control diarrhea and vomiting and administration of broad spectrum anti-biotics to prevent secondary bacterial infections. In all but mild cases, hospitalization for intensive management is essential.
About The Author: Kirsten Hawkins is a dog lover and animal
expert from Nashville, TN. Visit www.doghealth411.com for more information on dog health, the care of dogs, and dog travel.