Parvovirus

What is Parvovirus?

Parvovirus is a potentially fatal disease that can easily be prevented through vaccination. It originally appeared as a new disease in 1978 and now continues to infect dogs across Australia. Puppies are most at risk but the virus can affect all ages of dogs.

Parvovirus attacks the gastrointestinal tract and destroys white blood cells causing severe dehydration, bloody diarrhoea and septicemia. With a lack of white blood cells there is no defence to fight infection and the dogs quickly deteriorate.

Prevention

Prevention is easy and effective through simple vaccination.

Puppies will require a course of 2-3 vaccinations depending on their age, breed and environmental risk.

Adult dogs (that have completed their puppy course) require ‘booster’ vaccinations every 1-3 years. Alternatively, if your dog is not fit for repeat vaccination, we can do a blood titre test to see if they have adequate immunity to keep parvovirus away. (Click here to read about Vaccinations)

Symptoms

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bloody diarrhoea

How is Parvovirus transmitted?

The virus is mainly transmitted through infected faeces, although it can be transmitted via contact with any object that has been contaminated by the virus. It is highly contagious and extremely resistant in the environment so even household detergents will not destroy it. Bleach can be effective in killing the virus, however most contaminated objects are best to be appropriately discarded. Soil contaminated with parvovirus can remain infective for up to twelve months!

Diagnosis

An in-house pathology test can be performed to confirm your dog is infected with the virus. The test detects the canine parvovirus antibodies in your dog’s faeces.

Treatment

The virus causes extreme dehydration therefore the first step is to rehydrate your dog with fluids and electrolytes. Other medications are used to assist with infection and discomfort such as antibiotics and pain relief drugs. Some patients will require blood plasma transfusions. The sooner your pet receives treatment there is a greater chance of recovery.

Remember, the key to avoiding parvovirus is vaccination!

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