Canine Parvovirus can lurk anywhere an infected animal has
been, including the grass, the sidewalk, a kennel, or even a
veterinary care clinic. The virus has a very long lifespan.
Recently in some parts of the United States, there has been an increase in dogs contracting canine Parvovirus, also know as Parvo or CPV. This virus is generally contagious and can have devastating results if not diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible. After someone posted about the loss of their puppy to this dreadful disease on our Cockapoo Crazy Facebook Page, we realized that we didn’t have an article about canine Parvovirus, and we felt we should remedy that so our readers are better informed.
Parvo is a contagious virus that can affect a dogs intestinal tract and/or heart. It infects the cells that divide most rapidly in the body, which is why it affects the gastrointestinal area. It also can affect white blood cells, which can have an effect on the heart, usually in younger puppies. Damage to the heart from Parvo can cause cardiac problems for the rest of the dogs life.
Knowing the symptoms of Parvo is important, as well as how it is contracted. The symptoms can include severe vomiting, bloody stool, diarrhea, lethargy, dehydration, and loss of appetite. Your cockapoo may also have a fever, or even a low body temperature, in association with the dehydration. As in any case of sickness, vomiting and diarrhea, if not treated quickly, can result in severe dehydration. If you notice these issues in your dog, get him to the veterinarian immediately. The lethargy and loss of appetite may be harder to notice, but if you cockapoo is acting out of sorts for over 24 hours, you will probably want to see the vet anyway. A good idea would be to bring a stool sample with you, if possible.
Parvo is highly contagious and persistent in the environment. It is most often spread through your dog sniffing the stool of an infected dog. It can also be spread from walking through grass or even on streets in urban areas where a lot of other dogs are walked. Although it is species specific (you cannot catch canine parvovirus, your dog cannot catch feline parvovirus, and so on) you, as the owner, can carry it on your shoes or clothing, should you come in contact with Parvo. This is especially likely when you are cleaning up your dog’s stool. If you have any suspicion that you have come into contact with an affected dogs feces, you will want to wash your own clothing and shoes, and anything that you touch that your dog comes into contact with, such as his toys, bedding, crates, and his food and water bowls. The floors and any areas of the home that he has access to should be washed with a solution of 1 part bleach to 32 parts water. Bleach is one disinfectant cleaner that has been proven to kill canine parvovirus on hard surfaces. If you don’t think you can clean your dogs food and water dish and toys well enough for proper disinfection, you should just throw them out and buy new ones.
This sounds like overkill, but this virus is highly resistant and has been shown to survive in grass for up to an entire year! It is said to be resistant to cold, heat, dryness, and humidity, so there seems to be no area in the world where it would not be able to survive if introduced.
The diagnosis of canine parvovirus is done through a series of tests, including a blood chemical profile, urine and feces analysis, abdominal radio-graphs, and a physical exam. Your cockapoo’s vet will do a complete blood cell count too, as low white blood cell counts are often associated with Parvo. An abdominal ultrasound may be done to check for any blockages or enlarged lymph nodes in the groin area or anywhere in the body. When you are at the exam with your dog, be sure to give a thorough history of any health issues, vaccinations, and other important information you might think the vet should know. You will want to tell her about any recent activities that you and your dog were involved in and when you began to notice any symptoms. If possible, bring a sample of the dog’s stool or vomit for the vet to check out.
The best way to prevent your cockapoo from getting canine parvovirus is through vaccination
! Dogs can begin having vaccines as young as six weeks of age. The vaccine that is commonly given is a 5 in 1 that protects against leptospirosis, distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, and parainfluenza. It is usually be suggested to be given between 6 and 8 weeks of age, and a booster is given every four weeks for approximately 3 to 4 months, depending on the area and the risk factors associated with diseases the vaccines are meant to protect against. If you don’t know what the vaccine your dog is getting is for, ask the vet. They will be happy to explain it to you and should print off a copy for you to keep at home. If the Parvo vaccine is not included in your area, you can request it. A veterinarian can get access to it if need be. Here at Cockapoo Crazy, we feel that prevention is always better than treatment, especially when it comes to a virus that is potentially fatal.
The treatment, once a dog has contracted the virus, is supportive care. There is no cure for Parvo, although some sources suggest a 70% recovery rate, if your dog did not have a weakened immune system to begin with. The care will be aggressive to hydrate, and stop the vomiting and diarrhea. The vet will give them general antibiotics, intravenous fluids, and drugs to help stop the nausea and diarrhea. In many cases, the vet will need to keep your dog for 5 to 7 days for treatment and care. It is not recommended that you try to treat your dogs sickness at home, as it is highly contagious and aggressive.
It is important to stress here that even with aggressive treatment, there is no guarantee that any dog that has contracted canine parvovirus will recover. That’s why we can’t stress enough how important vaccines can be to your cockapoo’s health.
Even after recovery, your cockapoo will have a weakened immune system, so you will want to keep them away from environments with lots of other dogs, such as kennels and dog parks. Your dog will also continue to be contagious for at least two months, so do your best to keep them away from other dogs as much as possible during that time. Ask your vet about ways to boost the dogs immune system, follow-through care, and make sure to offer food that is easily digestible. The vet can also give a suggestion for this, but most likely it will be a wet, canned food with limited ingredients.
We hope that this will give you some insight into what you need to be aware of for the treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of canine parvovirus. Please do remember that we are not veterinarians and we do not work in conjunction with any vets office, so we cannot diagnosis symptoms or other health issues in your cockapoo!
Editor’s Note: This article is dedicated to Teddy, and all the other puppies and dogs who have lost a battle with canine parvovirus.