What Is Parvovirus in Dogs and Its Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Bringing a new puppy may be exciting but has many responsibilities, especially if the owner is a beginner. It’s more than just giving them toys and collars, a soft bed, food and treats, grooming tools, etc. However, there’s no reason to be pessimistic if owners did all the research, figured out the best place for them to play, or even found the best veterinarian.

Similar to humans, dogs get sick sometimes. But it doesn’t mean owners don’t take them to a trusted vet, especially in a dog pooping blood. Sometimes this condition is fatal, especially if it’s caused by parvovirus.

What Is Canine Parvovirus?

Canine parvovirus (CPV), most commonly known as “parvo,” is one of the most serious viruses to kill dogs. It was first discovered in 1967 and is unaffected by humidity, cold, heat, and drying. It is hard to die, can live in the environment for a long time, and spreads through direct contact with an infected dog. It can also affect dogs through indirect contact with a contaminated object. 

The virus primarily infects the small intestine, impairing absorption, destroying cells, and disrupting the gut barrier. In puppies, parvo affects the lymphopoietic tissues and bone marrow, and sometimes the heart. Owners with dogs infected with parvo should immediately take them to a reliable vet clinic, such as AEC Memphis.

Symptoms of Parvo

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Bloody diarrhea in dogs
  • Persistent vomiting 
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Fever or hypothermia (low body temperature)

How Do Dogs Get Parvo?

Puppies as young as six weeks until six months and unvaccinated dogs are the most susceptible to parvo. Younger puppies younger than six weeks still retain some of their mother’s antibodies if the dam completed her full series of parvo vaccinations. Parvovirus enters a dog’s body as they clean themselves or eat food off the ground or floor, with infected feces (even in small amounts).

It spreads directly from an infected dog to another dog. Once infected, a dog contaminates food, water bowls, leashes, collars, beddings, and crates. The incubation period is between three to seven days before the first symptoms show. Humans or pet owners can also get the infection through their hands, shoes, or clothing once they touch an infected dog. 

Diagnosis and Treatment of Parvo

There are no known drugs that can kill the virus up to this date. But available treatments can support a dog’s immune system and help their bodies become stronger to combat the disease. In almost all cases, puppies and dogs with parvo need to receive treatment from the animal hospital. 

The vet will give intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration and sometimes certain drugs to help control vomiting and avoid dehydration. Vets give antibiotics to parvo-infected dogs with secondary infections due to a weakened immune system.

Here are other facts to know about parvo in dogs:

  • Infected puppies and dogs must be isolated from other animals.
  • Vets and vet nurses should wear special clothes and shoes when treating them, which can be removed and sanitized to prevent the spread of the disease to other patients at the animal hospital or clinic.
  • The average duration of hospital stay for dogs recovering from parvo is five to seven days.
  • Many puppies die from the virus due to weak immune systems.
  • Vaccinations against parvo are less expensive than their treatment that involves staying for several days in intensive care. 

Choosing the Best Vet Clinic

Choosing a reliable veterinarian is a crucial pet owner’s decision for their dog. Together, they will become long-time partners to ensure the patient’s health. Besides the cost, license, and experience, the location of the clinic or hospital is also a vital factor to consider. During emergencies, sick dogs are most likely to survive if attended to immediately.

Recommendations from friends, family, or co-workers are one of the best ways to find the right veterinarian. The internet is also an excellent place to look for a vet clinic within any pet owner’s community. For instance, they can find “pet ER near me” to limit their search within their location.