Parvo: a life-threatening disease in dogs
Your dog is lethargic, does not want to eat and sleeps a lot. Numerous illnesses can cause these symptoms, and you shouldn’t be too concerned about them at first. However, does your dog also get diarrhea and start vomiting, is it a puppy or an adult dog that has not been vaccinated? Then it is wise to go to the vet as soon as possible. Parvo is a possibility and in that case there is no time to lose!
Parvo is a dangerous viral infection that affects the dog’s gastrointestinal tract. However, other organs can also be damaged by the virus. Parvo is serious and highly contagious and is still fairly common despite vaccination. Especially with puppies Parvo takes many lives. In addition, some dog breeds, such as Dobermann, Rottweiler and German Shepherd, are extra sensitive to the dangerous virus infection.
The main sources of contamination
The Parvovirus is very persistent and strong and can survive outside the dog’s body for a very long time (up to a year). The virus then settles in the environment and withstands heat, cold and many disinfectants quite easily. The risk of a Parvo infection thus persists for a long time. In addition, infected dogs also excrete enormous amounts of virus (via faeces, urine, vomit and saliva), which makes effective control of them even more difficult. It is therefore possible that a dog will get the disease because there was an infected congener in the same place a year earlier!
The main source of infection for your dog is another dog infected with Parvo. Your dog can easily contract the Parvovirus through contact with this congener or (directly or indirectly) with his faeces, urine, vomit or saliva. In addition, however, the people in the vicinity of your dog, including yourself, are also a danger. When you ?? in any way ?? have been in contact with the Parvovirus, you can transmit it to your dog through your hands, shoes or clothing.
The typical symptoms of Parvo
The first symptoms of Parvo do not appear until a few days or even weeks after infection. A Parvo infection usually starts with complaints that can be caused by many diseases. Your dog is lethargic, does not want to eat and sleeps a lot. Most dog owners do not ring alarm bells at that time; in the vast majority of cases, a relatively harmless disease is also the cause of these types of symptoms. However, if your dog is very young or if you have not vaccinated your adult dog, it is wise to consult a vet as soon as possible with these symptoms. Especially when you have been in a place where many dogs come (for example, a shelter or dog walking area) in recent weeks.
Shortly after the first symptoms appear (a few hours to days), the symptoms that are typical for Parvo develop. Your dog will develop a high fever, vomit, have watery and bloody diarrhea (with a typical Parvo odor) and drool. Dehydration is therefore lurking. When you see these symptoms in your dog, there really is no time to waste! A Parvo infection is very serious and can cause a lot of damage in a short time. In very young dogs, the heart muscle is sometimes also affected, after which they die of cardiac arrest.
Fast treatment by the vet
The vet will usually be able to diagnose Parvo fairly quickly on the basis of what he observes in your dog, the complaints you describe and the smell of the stool (always bring a sample!). In case of doubt, however, he can perform a specialized examination or have it performed on a sample of the stool.
When Parvo is diagnosed or suspected, treatment should be started immediately. The vet will therefore immediately admire your dog and administer fluids via an intravenous infusion. There are no drugs to fight a virus, unfortunately this is no different for the Parvovirus. However, the vet will usually give your dog antibiotics. In this way, harmful intestinal bacteria are prevented from infecting the intestinal mucous membranes damaged by the Parvovirus. Because Parvo is so contagious, your dog will be separated from other animals.
Prevention is much better than cure!
With a Parvo infection, your dog’s chances of survival depend on a number of factors. An adult dog generally has a better prognosis than a puppy. Vulnerable animals (for example those that were not completely fit or healthy prior to the disease or animals that are very old) also have a less good prognosis. In addition, the sooner your dog is treated, the greater the chances are that your dog will survive the infection.
Parvo infection is a serious and dangerous disease. Luckily you can vaccinate your dog against Parvo! The annual vaccination almost always protects your dog against infection with Parvo. It is extremely rare for a vaccinated dog to get sick when it comes into contact with the Parvovirus. Nevertheless, it is always wise to avoid dogs infected with Parvo (and their environment).