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Parvo: What it is and How to Stop it in its Tracks

 by danielle on 03 Jul 2014 |
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What is it?

Canine parvovirus is a seriously nasty dog disease. First described in the 1970s, parvo results in death in 91% of untreated cases.

The disease works by attacking and destroying cells in regions such as the stomach and intestines, with usually lethal results for the infected dog.
 

Who can catch it?

Whilst Parvo can affect dogs of any age group, puppies are especially vulnerable to infection between the ages of 6 and 20 weeks of age.

 

For unknown reasons, the Doberman and Rottweiler breeds are more susceptible to the disease than others.

Whilst other animals can be affected by parvo, it is not transferable to humans. 
 

How is it caught?

 

Parvo is highly contagious and extremely resistant to eradication. It is transmitted to dogs through accidental ingestion of the faeces of another infected dog. It can be carried on a dog’s hair and feet, as well as items it has been in contact with such as bedding and crates. It can also catch a ride on the shoes and clothing of human handlers and transfer that way onto other dogs.

Often dogs catch it by going for a walk in their local area where an infected dog has been roaming as well.
 

Symptoms
 

The first symptoms of parvo is typically lethargy which is then followed by loss of appetite, fever, vomiting and diarrhea (often bloody).

Vomiting and diarrhea usually lead to dehydration which can make the dog vulnerable to secondary infections which worsens their condition further. However it is important to note some symptoms may not be present in parvo affected dogs – some puppies have fevers of up to 106°F (41.1°C) and others none at all.
 

Treatments

 
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If you suspect at all a dog may have parvo an immediate trip to the vet is an absolute must. Intravenous fluids to restore water into the dog’s body after dehydration is essential, as is medication to control vomiting and diarrhea.
 
Blood transfusions and more intensive medical care may be involved in seriously affected animals.
 
Antibiotics to protect the dog in its vulnerable state from septicemia and secondary bacterial infections are also required, as they are the usual cause of death.
 
How well the dog recovers is largely dependent on the strain of parvo they have caught and the age and previous health state of the dog – as well as how quickly treatment was sought. Puppies with parvo are not hopeless cases. The majority, under proper veterinary supervision, recover without suffering long-term effects.
 

Prevention
 
The best treatment is prevention. Vaccination is the absolute best way to prevent parvo and it's simple to receive at your local vet.

 
 
If an infected dog has been on the premises, thorough cleaning of the areas it has been to is also essential. Parvo is a tough virus that is undeterred by most household cleaners and can survive without a dog for months and months by itself on surfaces. It is best to use a strong bleach solution to scrub the room and objects, left on for at least twenty minutes before being washed off.  

 

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