Your Pets Health

Canine Parvovirus

Depending on where you take your pets for their annual vaccinations, the amount and kind of vaccine your pet will get varies from clinic to clinic. This is because it is largely dependent on the vet to decide what kind of vaccination schedule they like to keep their patients on. Ideally all pets should be seen once a year for a routine wellness exam, which is usually coupled with administering whatever vaccines your pet is due for that year. At Bickford Park Animal Hospital, your puppy will receive a series of vaccines administered in full at 16 weeks and will return one year later for their adolescent vaccines. After this time we put them on a rotating vaccine schedule, one of which is parvovirus vaccine. S0 what exactly is parvovirus and why is it so important to be vaccinated against it? Read on, my friends.

Canine parvovirus is one of the more fatal viral infections that is considered a “core” vaccination for your pet. Parvo usually affects immunologically-naive puppies who cannot mount a proper immune response against this relentless virus (this helps account for the 91% of fatalities in all infected dogs). Parvo virus is extremely contagious between dogs but not people. Cross-contamination of this virus occurs when dogs come in contact with an infected dogs’ feces and soil (which we all know is bound to happen with or without our knowledge of it).

Parvovirus can occur in two different forms. The more common form is the intestinal form of parvovirus, but there is also a cardiac variety of parvovirus. Intestinal parvo exhibits itself in the form of severe bloody diarrhea, vomitting, lethargy and a fever. Severe reactions can occur, where infectious bacteria can cross into the bloodstream, the intestine could prolapse on itself, and could cause something called “Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome” (SIRS) for short, not to mention dehydration due to the diarrhea and vomiting. Instestinal parvovirus is not a laughing matter.

Cardiac parvo causes respiratory and cardiac failure in puppies. This form usually presents itself before the puppy is 8 weeks of age. The heart muscles are attacked by the virus and the puppy will often go into cardiac and respiratory distress followed by failure of both systems. Should they escape these episodes, risks of hemorrhage in the gut, brain, liver, heart and kidneys are possible. Pregnant dog owners should be wary of this form of parvo as infection of pups usually occurs in the womb.

If caught in time, treatment is available. It is rigorous and will require veterinary hospitalization for several days. Ideally, your dog would need IV fluids, in addition to antibiotics and anti-nausea medication. So keep your eyes peeled for the aforementioned symptoms, and better yet, make sure to follow your vet’s yearly vaccination schedule!

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