Recognizing & Treating Canine Parvovirus


The parvo virus can be critical for your puppy if not treated early on.  The last thing you want is to put your new canine member in danger from the start. That tiny little creature is depending on you for its health and well-being.

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Many pet parents have concerns about mandatory vaccinations for their dogs. What is necessary for the life and health of your pet? Vaccinations were not always available. One of the fatal diseases to consider is the parvovirus. This virus started appearing back around 1978, and since then, the cat feline distemper vaccine was developed. Further studies led to the creation of a vaccine for dogs as well. Puppies are very susceptible to the virus if not vaccinated at an early age after being weaned from their mother’s milk. Without treatment, 80% of affected puppies could die. With treatment, 85% of animals will survive.

Parvovirus is caused by a highly contagious virus through dog feces. The virus only contains DNA and RNA and is not capable of reproducing unless it invades a cell within the body where it continually multiplies. As it reproduces in abundance, the cell can burst, release new virus particles into the bloodstream and tissues. Other cells are then invaded. The only protection is the immune system. A microscope is necessary to view this little virus. As with many viral diseases of the intestinal tract, it can be passed on from dog to dog without any visible symptoms.

The incubation period for the virus is average between 4 to 14 days when you may notice clinical signs of vomiting and diarrhea. Diarrhea will be yellow to yellowish gray at first, becoming tinged with blood very quickly.

There is no direct anti-viral medication to treat Parvovirus. In treating the affected puppy, it is important to keep it hydrated, making sure the electrolytes are balanced. Intravenous fluids may be administered along with certain spectrum antibiotics and/or antiemetic drugs. Your veterinarian will know the proper treatment, medications, and hydration. Hospitalization may be required. If your puppy survives the first four days of treatment, it is very likely he/she will survive the parvovirus infection.

Prevention is the best treatment you can give your puppy. New puppies get the antibodies they need from the colostrum of their mother’s milk. Once they are weaned, they rely on you to protect them from all dangers. According to your doctors’ recommendations, a vaccination regimen will be prescribed for your puppy beginning around the age of six weeks old. Those treatments will include warding off the possible deadly disease of parvovirus. Don’t put your puppy in jeopardy. His/her life is now dependent upon you, your total love, dedication, and proper care. The rewards will be endless as you have saved the life of your loving little puppy and new family member.

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