Dog Parvovirus: What To Know And How To Prevent It
Although parvoviruses are present in both dogs and cats, dogs are more susceptible to parvovirus. This is because dogs have open airways, a structure that makes the virus easier to infect, said Dr. Regan, the Penn Vet veterinary pathologist who performed the necropsy. But parvovirus can also infect humans, which is why it’s important not to let dogs interact with cats, or vice versa. When your dog ingests the virus, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, fever, lethargy, depression, and death. Although these symptoms can last for weeks, the virus can also incubate into severe lifelong joint problems.
Causes of Parvovirus
Unfortunately, it’s not clear how the parvovirus infects dogs, although recent evidence shows that a family of viruses called cytomegalovirus are able to enter dogs through the airways, said Dr. Regan. She says it’s important for dog owners to understand that they’re exposed to this virus every day, and that the majority of people who have dogs are perfectly healthy and therefore unlikely to contract the virus. Humans, on the other hand, can be infected by the virus through close contact with infected dogs or their feces. Because dogs are known to groom themselves, and then lick their paws, any feces that were wiped on their paws could have been contaminated, which is how humans can contract the virus, said Dr. Regan.
Symptoms of Parvovirus
Early signs include fatigue, loss of appetite, loss of energy and fever. These signs may be present for weeks after the dog has been exposed to the virus. A week later, the body may develop a coating around the intestinal tract, called a perforated bowel. The other signs include watery diarrhea, increased thirst, and frequent vomiting. Most dogs develop a low-grade fever and lethargy that dissipates within a few days, however, the disease can lead to pneumonia and ultimately death if it is not treated. READ MORE: These are the 5 most common causes of dog attacks Canine Parvovirus: Vaccines & Prevention The five-strain vaccine has been available since 2006, according to the AVMA. There is also a one-dose vaccine that is good for puppies as well.
Treatment for Parvovirus
Vets recommend that dogs receive a high-dose vaccine (which costs around $200 for a three-dose series) several weeks before they’re exposed to an infectious dose of parvovirus. “If the dog doesn’t get the shot, then it will start to feel sick immediately,” said Dr. Regan. After the vaccine, dogs can take other steps to prevent spreading the virus, including regular vaccines, maintaining a healthy diet, and frequent bathes. If your dog gets the parvovirus, it can also be treated with fluids, antibiotics, and antiviral drugs. If your dog has parvovirus: Keep it isolated for at least a week. Once symptoms appear, you can keep your dog in a separate room, at a minimum.
How to Prevent Parvovirus
There are a few ways to prevent parvovirus and similar parvoviruses. Be sure to always wash your hands after you groom, and avoid the contamination of sharing water bowls. Limit contact with stray cats and dogs. All pets should be vaccinated for parvovirus.