Canine Parvovirus in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
Understanding Canine Parvovirus:-
Canine Parvovirus CPV2, as the very name itself specifies is a form of dog illness which through an infectious virus can spread to all other animals especially mammals like Cat, Wolves, Skunks, foxes.
It is generally agreed that the disease is a mutated form of Feline Panleukopenia which is a cat infection that comes in domestic home cats and wild cats.
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Canine Parvovirus in Dogs:-
This is a contagious viral disease which can cause life threating illness. It spreads from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with their faeces. There are 2 forms of Canine Parvovirus in dogs.
One is the intestinal form which is more common. Dogs get infected through oral contact with faeces, infected oil. After intake of such things, the virus spreads to the lymphoid tissue in the throat and then to the bloodstream, intestine and then bone marrow.
The intestinal gland is severely affected. Anaerobic bacteria present in the intestine then spreads to the bloodstream causing sepsis to the dog’s body.
The shedding of the faeces by the infected dog results in the virus spreading unchecked to other dogs and animals.
The second form of Canine Parvovirus is cardiac through which the younger dogs especially the puppies get affected. Most of these puppies are very young between 6 weeks and 6 months old.
It attacks the heart muscles of the young puppies which can be fatal. It also affects the puppies in the uterus ie the foetus.
Infection of the foetus happens when the expecting female dog is infected with the virus. The sudden cardiac attack results in breathing difficulties for the puppy leading to death in a lot of cases.
Those dogs or puppies who survive develop excess fibre tissues which in later stages can cause a lot of body harm. The cardiac attack is much less compared to the intestinal.
The breed of dogs which are affected by this virus
The breeds which have a higher risk of getting this virus are – Alaskan Sledge dog, German shepherd, American Staffordshire Terriers, Rottweiler’s, Doberman Pinschers, Labrador Retrievers, Pit Bulls, English Springer Spaniels. Apart from these breeds all puppies, grown up dogs and other canines can easily become a victim to parvovirus.
Since the infection comes through external objects and through direct dog to dog spread factors, every dog has a risk of getting this illness. In fact the larger dog family like wolves, jackals are also completely safe from this.
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The history of Canine Parvovirus and the areas of the world affected
Parvovirus in its present form started appearing in 1970’s and was recognized by 1978. It was similar to an earlier form of Parvovirus known to be in cats and the same virus was also known to be present in foxes and Raccoon – A mammal found in South America.
Two new strains or forms were identified in 1979 and 1984. Most of the present cases of Parvovirus are due to these forms which has replaced the earlier one.
A new form has been recently discovered in countries like Spain, Vietnam and Italy. Medical research has shown that the virus has the maximum damage effect on dogs and very little on cats, raccoons and other animals.
Since it is one of the most common forms of dog illness, dogs in almost every country, whether pet dog or non-pet dogs are is harmed by this illness.
The chances of dogs dying from this disease are as high as 90 % if it is not treated at the right time.
Symptoms of Canine Parvovirus
The main symptoms that come in intestinal form of Canine Parvovirus is –
High loss of appetite called Anorexia, Fever, Vomiting, Weight loss, Lethargy, Severe Bloody diarrhoea.
The dog body’s ability to absorb nutrient’s is badly restricted which leads to the dog becoming weak due to de hydration caused by less protein and other required fluids.
In this case, the wet tissue of the mouth and the eyes becomes red and the heart beat also increases. Abdominal discomfort is common in intestinal Parvovirus. The body temperature will be low known as hypothermia.
When a cardiac attack takes place in the younger dog or puppies, they start showing severe breathing problems and even chocking becomes very visible.
Diagnosing the Illness:-
Canine Parvovirus is diagnosed through bio chemical test, physical examination and a special test of animal stool. As and when required abdominal radiograph, abdominal ultrasound, urine analysis will also need to be done.
Test to find out the level of low white blood cells is another form of diagnosis.
Abdominal radiograph will show the intestinal obstruction while abdominal ultrasound will show enlarged lymph nodes in the stomach.
The bio chemical and urine test will reveal the enlarged liver enzymes and any other form of electrolyte imbalances.
The veterinary doctor should also be given full details of all previous vaccinations and whatever symptoms that has been shown.
Treatment of Canine Parvovirus
The main focus on this type of dog illness is curing the symptoms and preventing secondary bacterial infection through hospitalization.
Intensive therapy and total body support are other forms of treatment.
Intravenous fluids and nutrition therapy treatment will help in stabilising the level of fluids in the dog’s body which is caused by dehydration and diarrhoea.
Protein and electrolyte levels will be monitored and given whenever necessary. Medications include drugs to control vomiting, antacids, gastro protections, pet antibiotics, anthelmintics – this is to fight parasites.
Treatment can be done at home also but under the guidance of the veterinary doctor.
Recovery chances overall are between 70 to 80 %.
The best prevention step is to vaccinate the puppies at an early stage ideally within 6 weeks and at least 2 preventive vaccines within 10 weeks of age.
Also ensure that dogs do not come into contact with faeces by having proper cleaning and waste disposal standards.
Avoid taking dog to public places where infection chances are higher.
It is better to stop dog socialising for some time if there is any fear of infection or any symptoms being shown.