How We Restored Our Dog’s Gut Health After Canine Parvovirus, Part 1
This past summer was horrendous. After two years of careful avoidance, my family finally caught covid. It spread through the family one by one, and as a whole our family stayed sick for a few weeks. Right as the stragglers were finally coming out of the illness, our house suffered a major plumbing failure, causing sewage to back up throughout everything. This displaced our family for another week. Then, while we were dealing with this displacement, our sweet little puppy, who had been in strict quarantine with us for 2 months, caught parvo. The only thing out of the ordinary was a new type of chew toy which we had purchased from an establishment that we do not normally shop from.
What is Canine Parvovirus
Canine parvovirus is a viral disease that aggressively attacks a dog’s gastrointestinal tract. It can be spread through dog-to-dog or person-to-dog contact, or contact with contaminated food, surfaces, hair, feet and paws, feces, or environments. The virus can also live on food and water bowls, collars and leashes, and even the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs. This virus is resistant to heat, cold, humidity, and dryness. It can survive in the environment for extended periods of time, even years. Parvovirus is highly contagious and can affect all dogs, but especially unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than four months old. Most deaths from parvovirus occur within 48 to 72 hours following the onset of clinical signs. If your dog shows any of these signs, you must contact your veterinarian immediately.
Contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog shows
any of these symptoms.
Symptoms of Parvo
Symptoms of canine parvovirus may or may not include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting and severe diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating, fever, or hypothermia. Persistent vomiting and diarrhea will cause rapid dehydration and damage to the intestines. This acute illness will often cause cause septic shock and death within a matter of hours or days.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Parvovirus infection is often suspected based on evaluation of the dog’s history, a physical examination, and laboratory tests. Fecal testing can confirm the diagnosis within minutes.
No specific drugs are available to kill the virus in infected dogs. Treatment consists of palliative care, supporting the dog’s body until their immune system can fight off the viral infection. Basically, the dog is placed in intensive care while the virus has to run its course. Immediate intervention is required and consists primarily of combatting dehydration by replacing electrolytes, protein, and fluid losses, as well as controlling vomiting and diarrhea, and preventing secondary infections. Sick dogs must be kept warm, hydrated, and clean.
The prognosis for dogs with parvo are not optimistic, but the sooner you intervene, the better their chances for survival. Early recognition and aggressive treatment are vital. With proper treatment, survival rates can approach 85%.
Despite proper vaccination, a small percentage of dogs do not develop protective immunity and remain susceptible to infection.
Vaccination and good hygiene are critical components of prevention. Pet owners should ensure that their dog’s parvovirus vaccination is up-to-date. Ask your veterinarian about a recommended vaccination schedule and prevention program for your dog.