Guard up for Canine Parvovirus

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Dr Mahesh M Chaudhary

Dr Mayank R Patel

Canine parvovirus (CPV) infection, most frequently referred to as ‘parvo’ is a major concern for pet parents. It is a very contagious and violent virus that induces infectious gastrointestinal (GI) infection, which may inflict lifelong cardiac muscle damage in certain situations. –by Dr Mayank R Patel and Dr Mahesh M Chaudhary
Intestinal CPV is the most prevalent type, causing many uncomfortable and even unsafe effects, often requiring hospitalisation and 24-hour supervision. Parvovirus can also be lethal for your pet if not treated on time.

Where it comes from?
Parvovirus spreads via direct or indirect contact with faeces and an infected dog can begin shedding the virus 4-5 days after exposure. It can be acquired by consuming the faeces of an infected dog or merely sniffing the hindquarters of an infected dog. Keep pets away from faeces, and always pick up and dispose of faeces to help prevent the spread of this infectious disease.

Puppies in the age group of six weeks to six months old, unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated dogs are most susceptible to parvo. The breeds at an elevated risk of parvovirus include Rottweiler, Doberman Pinschers, English Springer Spaniels and American Staffordshire Terriers.

Beware of these signs & symptoms
The most common symptom is lethargy. But keep in mind that lethargy can be due to various other reasons, so check for other signs. Parvovirus infected dogs will suffer extreme vomiting, lack of appetite and foul-smelling or bloody diarrhoea. Because of the level of dehydration and infection, critically ill puppies can collapse and have a high heart rate and hypothermia. If you notice these or other symptoms, seek immediate veterinary care for your pets.

Timely treatment to save life
Dogs suspected of developing canine parvovirus should be immediately isolated from other dogs to avoid the transmission of infection. The key targets of canine parvovirus therapy include the restoration of fluid, electrolyte and metabolic abnormalities and prevention of secondary bacterial infection. Extreme dehydration can come on rapidly and fatal to dog, so immediate veterinary attention is essential.

There is no cure, so keeping the dog hydrated and controlling the secondary symptoms can keep him going until his immune system beats the illness. Treatment is based on supportive care, including fluid and electrolyte therapy, anti-emetics, antibiotics and nutritional support.

Prevention is better than cure
Non-vaccinated dogs are more susceptible to the infection. Parvo can be extremely harsh on puppies who have not yet been vaccinated because they have not yet completely developed their immune systems. Vaccination is recommended at age groups of 6-8, 10-12 and 14-16 weeks for the prevention and management of parvo virus infection.

To be deemed completely vaccinated, a dog may continue to undergo a booster injection at one year of age. Dogs can still continue to undergo lifetime vaccines every one to three years. For a prolonged time, CPV may remain viable in the climate. Make sure you consult your vet and ask for any lifestyle modifications if your pet is susceptible to parvo infection.

(Dr Mayank R Patel is PhD Scholar (AGB) at College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, Anand Agricultural University, Anand, Gujarat; Dr Mahesh M Chaudhary is Research Associate at Livestock Research Station, Anand Agricultural University, Anand, Gujarat)