Available vaccines have controlled the transmission of parvovirus infection, but sometimes, even vaccinated dogs get infected and die due to this disease. Better understanding of the disease and sources of the virus by pet parents can prevent and reduce the spread of this disease and untimely loss of their altruistic companions.
Canine parvovirus (CPV) infection is one of the most common problems in dogs, causing massive mortality in puppies. The disease is highly infectious, depicted by diarrhoea which is frequently haemorrhagic. This virus affects dogs of all ages, but puppies are most commonly affected. CPV infection is manifested in two forms: the intestinal form and the cardiac form. Cardiac form is fatal and affects young puppies.
Who can get affected?
- Young (6 week to 6 months), unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated dogs are most vulnerable.
- Breeding kennels and dog shelters that house a large number of inadequately vaccinated puppies are particularly hazardous places to acquire infection.
- Sufficient colostrum ingestion by puppies born to a dam with CPV antibodies is protected from infection for the first few weeks of life; however, susceptibility to infection increases as maternally acquired antibodies fade.
- Improper vaccination protocol and vaccination failure can also lead to a CPV infection.
- Immunosuppressive diseases or drugs also increase the likelihood of infection.
- Certain breeds of dogs like Rottweiler, Doberman Pinschers, Pit Bulls, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, English Springer Spaniels, and Alaskan sled dogs, are particularly vulnerable to the disease.
- Male dogs more than six month old are more susceptible than female dogs for this infection.
How CPV affects dogs?
The virus affects in two ways:
1. Diarrhoea and vomiting, resulting in extreme fluid loss and dehydration, leading to shock and death.
2. Loss of the intestinal barrier allows bacterial invasion of potentially the entire body resulting in septicemia and death.
There are three main manifestations of Parvovirus infection. The onset of clinical signs is usually sudden, often 12 hours or less. The incubation period varies from 3 to 10 days.
1. Asymptomatic- No clinical signs expressed and animal shed virus in his excretion. This carrier form is common in vaccinated and adult dogs.
2. Intestinal- The virus has affinity towards rapidly dividing cells, such as those lining the gastrointestinal tract and causes extreme damage and sloughing of the intestinal tract lining. This can leave the patient open to secondary bacterial infection and death rate of 16-35 percent has been reported. Most of the affected dogs are less than one year old and between 6-20 weeks old.
3. Cardiac – This form is much common than the intestinal form due to extensive vaccination. Severe inflammation and necrosis of the heart muscle causes breathing difficulty and death in very young puppies. Older dogs who survive this form have scarring in the heart muscle.
Parvovirus infected dogs show variable symptoms with varying severity. The most common form of the disease is the gastroenteritis form. Clinical signs of enteritis usually develop within 3-7 days post infection. Severe and bloody diarrhoea, vomiting, anorexia, severe weight loss, lethargy characterises parvovirus enteritis with lowered WBC counts. Eyes and mouth may become evidently red and the heart may beat too swiftly. Infected dogs are depressed, feverish, dehydrated or may also have a low body temperature. Physical examination of dog may reveal dilated fluid filled intestinal loops. Abdominal pain necessitates further investigation to rule out the possible complication of intussusceptions. Acute parvovirus gastroenteritis can occur in dogs irrespective of age, breed or sex. The disease progresses at a very fast pace and death can occur as early as two days after the onset of the disease. A less common form of the disease causes myocarditis. This form is more common in puppies less than eight weeks of age and is characterised by breathing difficulties leading to death.
How CPV spreads?
Canine parvovirus is resistant to many common disinfectants and can persist indoors at room temperature for up to two months and outdoors for up to five months, if protected from sunlight and desiccation. CPV can spread through following ways:
- In acutely infected dogs, the virus is shed in extremely large amounts in faeces within 4-5 days of exposure, throughout the period of illness and for approximately 10 days after clinical recovery.
- Veterinary hospital and clinics are also likely places to pickup the virus due to contamination of premises by excretions
of infected animals coming for treatment.
- Contaminated feed and water is another major route of disease transmission.
- Dogs can also pickup virus through contact inanimate belongings of infected dogs.
- Mechanical transmission by insects and rodents may also occur.
Parvovirus infection should be differentially diagnosed with other enteric viruses such as coronavirus, adenovirus, rotavirus, morbillivirus, reovirus and norovirus which also express similar type of clinical manifestations. The most efficient way to diagnose parvovirus infection is to identify either the virus or virus antigens in stools by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) antigen test. A complete physical examination, abdominal radiographs and abdominal ultrasounds aids in determining the severity of the disease. A chemical blood profile and a complete blood cells count may also be performed. Low WBC levels in association with bloody stools are indicative of CPV infection. Serum biochemical tests and urine analysis may reveal elevated liver enzymes and electrolyte imbalances.
Radiography helps rule out other likely causes for vomiting and diarrhoea, while an abdominal ultrasound may reveal enlarged lymph nodes in the groin, or throughout the body, and fluid-filled intestinal segments. Alternative methods of detecting CPV in faeces include virus isolation in cell culture, identification using electron microscopy and viral nucleic acid detection by PCR. Sero-diagnosis of CPV infection requires demonstration of a 4-fold increase in serum IgG titer over a 14-day period or detection of IgM antibodies in the absence of recent (within four weeks) vaccination.
Diseased dogs require intensive veterinary management. Fluid therapy for replacing fluids loss through vomiting and diarrhoea is unarguably the most efficient treatment. Intravenous fluids and medications to control vomiting and diarrhoea are often required, but in less severe cases, subcutaneous or oral fluids may be given. In severe cases, a blood plasma transfusion can be done. Puppies and dogs should be given intravenous fluid support during vomiting and never be permitted to eat or drink until the vomiting has stopped. To check secondary bacterial infections antibiotic therapy is generally prescribed.
Dogs must be monitored for development of hypokalemia and hypoglycemia. If electrolytes and serum blood glucose concentration cannot be routinely monitored, empirical supplementation of intravenous fluids with potassium (potassium chloride 20-40 mEq/L) and dextrose (2.5-5 percent) is suitable. If GI protein loss is severe, colloid therapy should be considered. The outcome depends upon the virulence of the specific strain of parvovirus, the age and immune status of the dog, and how quickly the treatment is started. Most pups that are under good veterinary care recover without complications. In dogs with severe symptoms, antiserum against endotoxins is recommended. Corticosteroids may be given if the animal is in shock. After the intestinal symptoms begin to subside, a broad-spectrum deworming agent is often used.
Prevention and control…
- To limit environmental contamination and further spreads to other susceptible animals, dogs with confirmed or suspected CPV enteritis must be kept in strict isolation.
- All infected or suspected surfaces should be cleaned with a solution of dilute bleach in a 1:32 dilution and must be left on the contaminated surface for 20 minutes before being rinsed. The same dilution bleach solutions can be used as footbaths. The bleach solution should be used on bedding, dishes, kennel floors and other impervious materials suspected for contamination.
- Clean and disinfect the quarters of infected animal thoroughly.
- Isolate young puppies as much as possible from other dogs and from potential sources of infection until they complete the vaccination.
- The canine parvovirus vaccine is considered a core vaccine i.e. all dogs should receive this vaccine. Vaccinate puppies against parvovirus by subcutaneous injection at 6-8 weeks of age, and revaccinating every three weeks until the puppy is 16-20 weeks of age. A booster is given at one year of age and every 1-3 year afterwards.
(Dr Vinod Kumar Singh, Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Immunology and Dr Rahul Kumar, Department of Veterinary Pathology, belong to College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, DUVASU, Mathura.)
British author and puppy mill campaigner, Janetta Harvey tells us about her dogs— Susie-Belle, Twinkle and Renae and how they have inspired her in a global campaign to end puppy mills.
We’ve had Renae since she was eight weeks old and she’s now almost five. We don’t know how old Susie-Belle and Twinkle are, as they lived for many years in puppy mills as breeding dogs before they were rescued from that horrible life. Susie-Belle arrived in our lives four years ago and Twinkle two and a half years. It’s estimated that they’re somewhere between eight and twelve years old, Susie-Belle is definitely the oldest. She’s a bit like a wise and gentle elderly grandma dog! She’s experienced much suffering in her life, but now makes sure that she gets the most out of her senior years; she loves her walks, her food, her soft and comfortable bed, all things that she never experienced in the puppy mill.
Big puppy mill menace
Yes, puppy mills are certainly problems in Britain, and it’s a growing menace for the dogs. The puppy breeding and selling industry is poorly regulated which means that money can easily be made from dogs being forced to produce puppies for years on end. In many of the places such as where Susie-Belle and Twinkle were imprisoned, dogs are kept on an industrial scale, with hundreds confined to cages or small concrete boxes in large agricultural breeding sheds. They receive little care and no attention or love at all. They never see daylight and most will die before they are rescued. It’s a business based on cruelty and is all about the money that can be made by the breeders selling the puppies to dealers, who then sell them on to the puppy buying public. Susie-Belle and Twinkle are two of the lucky few who survive long enough to be rescued, and get to live as dogs, not as breeding machines.
Life with dogs
My dogs, Susie-Belle and Twinkle, have changed my life. Once I adopted Susie-Belle, and saw the full horrors of puppy mills and what damage the industry inflicts on dogs, I knew that I had to do everything possible to make a difference to other dogs that are caught up in it. I knew that giving a home to one puppy mill survivor isn’t enough, so I went on and wrote my first book about puppy mills which became a bestseller. This allowed me to reach many people and educate them, but it still didn’t feel like I was doing enough, so in 2013 I adopted Twinkle, knowing that the problems caused to her by the puppy industry were more psychologically severe than Susie-Belle’s. Having her and Susie-Belle in my life means I spend my days writing, blogging and campaigning to end the industry that harmed them. I network with others around the world with similar problems to stop the cruel business that condemns dogs to live of utter misery.
Book on puppy mill
Yes, there is so much I need to write about puppy mills and the dogs who survive, as well as those who die before knowing that life can be kind, not cruel. I’m currently writing a children’s book, working with illustrator Annabel Wilson. The book will talk to children about puppy mills and how as the future generation of puppy buyers they can make the world better for the dogs. Her published books are Saving Susie-Belle and the newly released sequel Saving One More, which share her life with her dogs rescued from the puppy mill industry.
(Janetta Harvey is Huffington Post UK blogger and an active international campaigner against puppy mills. To learn more about her, visit: www.janettaharvey.com)
You will surprise to know that there is a right technique of petting a dog. The morning hug, which makes up your day, might not be welcome by your pooch. Here’s how
to pet your dog.
Don’t generalise the dog’s behaviour and attributes, understand the need of your pet – before petting. Here are few ways to pet a pooch:
1Understand the dog:
Don’t pet a dog who doesn’t initiate contact with you. Even the slightest hint of contact like tail wagging or eye contact should be considered a sign for petting. Understand the dog’s mood by the wag of the tail. Let the dog sniff you and become familiar with you. If he stays back or acts a little grumpy, you should not pet him.
Be extra cautious around a sleeping, fearful, sick or reserved dog. You don’t want to alarm them with sudden greetings and pats.
3 Perfect approach:
Whether it is your own dog or an unknown dog, you have to always approach the dog slowly and preferably bend down to their height.
4 Stop when the dog feels uncomfortable:
When you approach the dog, if he moves away or shows any signs of discomfort, then you need to stop.
5 Hugging blues:
Hugging your dog can be a routine for you. But do you know that some dogs get frightened and threatened when you hug them? Cuddling your furry companion for a pampering session is nothing less than rejuvenation, but you need to be cautious. It can also be the case where your pet may like the hug of one family member over the others. If you notice the dog exhibiting any such signs then it is better to mould yourself as per the liking of the pet.
6 Petting your friend’s dog:
If you want to pet someone else’s dog you must ask the pet parent about the dog’s temperament and behaviour. If the dog is friendly with strangers then you can slowly approach the dog and give an encouraging pat on the back.
7 Petting a stray:
If it is a stray that you want to pet, be very carefull as they are not vaccinated. You can foster the friendship with warm food, clean water and companionship. In no time, the stray will let you pet him.
8 Make petting a play session:
Bring in your pet’s favourite toys – ball, tug of war or a soft toy and elevate the excitement.
9 Don’t force your pet to interact with other dogs/humans.
Just like we humans, dogs have friends and foes. So if your pet isn’t friendly with your neighbour’s dog it is perfectly okay. Also don’t allow strangers to pet your dog when he is showing signs of wanting to be left alone.
10 Positive encouragement:
Positive encouragement works wonders with fearful and shy dogs. Give them treats when they stay calm and show socially amicable behaviour.
11 Pet slowly:
Don’t make any sudden movements like scratching, slapping or moving your hand very fast on his body. Pet him slowly and if you feel, he is liking it, you can continue it.
Where to pet and where not to pet?
Understand that each dog has individual choices, likes and dislikes. All dogs are different and have different preferences. When you understand how physical contact is affecting your pet it helps you develop a positive relation.
Generally most dogs like to be patted on the chest, back and behind the ears. In fact, it is rightly said that ‘Give a dog a belly rub and you’ll have both a friend and a permanent job.’Many people think that dogs like being patted on the head. On the contrary most dogs don’t like being patted on the head. It is quite common for dogs to lean away when you try to pat them on the head.
Avoid petting on the muzzle, paws, top of the head and tail. Whatever you do, do it with love and affection. Happy Petting!
Though monsoons are a huge respite from scorching summers, they bring with them many water-borne diseases or skin infections. Here are a few tips to take care of your pooch in monsoons:
- De-worm your pet periodically.
- Keep your pet tick-free.
- Do not feed him cold food and water.
- Do not take him for a walk in water-logged areas as it is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and pests.
- Clean his paws and furs when back from a walk.
- Whenever you find your pooch dirty, give him a bath with antiseptic shampoo but do remember to dry him thoroughly.
- Groom your dog regularly, taking extra care of his ears and paws.
- If you notice any foul smell or hair fall, take him to your vet immediately.
- Feed him fewer calories as he might not be able to go outdoors for long walks.
- Make his diet more fibre-rich. Feed him a balanced diet.
- Clean his feeding and water bowls every time you serve him.
- Give him warm and dry bedding.
The pet care industry is increasingly influenced by ‘lifestyle’ with trends in human life frequently crossing over into the world of pets. There is also increased focus on nutritional intervention to improve health and quality of life of pets. From OP Singh, Chairman-Vivaldis Health and Foods Pvt Ltd, let us understand what ‘lifestyle’ means when translated to the companion animal segment.
What motivates pet care?
To people pets are family and that is the theme in pet care. Our pets are becoming more important to us than ever before.
The recent increase in single-person households and less time for socialising have increased our need for social support, which we find in our faithful pets. This is in line with the reasons most people cite for having a pet, with the need for companionship being the main reason reported by 70 percent of pet parents.
This trend will not cease anytime soon – pet parents want their pets to mirror their affluent lifestyle.
Pets get birthday presents, cakes, special meals, shopping at specialty boutiques, spa treatments etc. So it should come as no surprise that they are willing to go to great length to make sure their furry friends are comfortable inside and out. With disposable income on the rise, they are willing to spend more on the pets they have, investing in premium products and services for them.
This luxurious lifestyle of pets has also started resulting in lifestyle problems in pets like ‘obesity’ which is the root cause of all the lifestyle diseases in pets.
About the new age pet parents
Almost 60-70 percent of pet parents treat their pet as a family member and their welfare is a priority for them. They prefer brands that feel safe, reliable and credible. Their indulgence can include but is not limited to providing their pet quality foods/treats, toys, grooming services.
While, 20-30 percent pet parents treat their pet as a well cared for animal, prioritising the pet’s health, but reject overt humanisation. This group embraces the animal nature of their pets. They are willing to spend heavily on their pets. They typically research all available products thoroughly and prefer small ethically positioned brands. This group treats their pets very well, and trends in their pet’s food echo those in their own food, looking to organic and sustainable ingredients, for example.
While, the rest five percent of pet parents treat their pet as a substitute child and are likely to buy clothing and accessories for him. Although small, this group is often willing to spend large amounts of money on their pets. For them, exclusivity tends to be paramount.
Reason behind specialised pet care
Pet parents want to do everything possible to keep their dog or cat healthy. So gone are the days of generic kibble. They can now choose from a range of natural therapeutic products that is scientifically geared for particular conditions. Just like in humans, the trend in pet parenting is now shifting towards the natural products, for nutrition as well as treatment.
So product development is hinged on this central idea of providing nutrition not just for wellness but also for treating many of the conditions in a natural way, without worrying about the side effects.
The industry is investing in R&D initiatives to continue to develop new products, especially natural alternative treatment options with advanced formulations to promote longer, healthier lives in pets.
Sometimes, pet parents go overboard in pampering their pets, which makes the pets obese and attracts to ill health and can become life-threatening too. Here’s how to help your dog lose weight.
- Feed at fixed intervals: Do not let food available to your pooch at all times. Only feed him at fix intervals, in consultation with your vet.
- Right quantity: Give your dog breed-and age-specific diet, on advice of your vet.
- Choose a quality dog food: Always choose a dog food with higher protein content so that the dog feels full.
- Exercise: Exercise him and do not let him live a sedentary life.
- Minimise treats: Do not over indulge with treats. A pat on the back will also be good for your dog.
- Monitor his progress: Always monitor his weight loss regime. If he is not losing enough, you need to ascertain the cause and make necessary changes in his diet and exercise.
- Maintain it: Once you reach his goal weight, maintain the diet and exercise schedule.
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