Parvo – A deadly disease

By Kaytie Grant

Parvovirus:

Canine Parvovirus (Parvo) is a deadly disease which mostly affects puppies and adolescent dogs. This is because they have weaker immune systems than older dogs. Parvo is contracted through contact with contaminated faeces or vomit. It is highly contagious and can live on surfaces for up to 6 months. The disease can also be transmitted through infected particles on the ground, or on surfaces, bedding, feed/water bowls, clothing, fur or paws. 

Symptoms:

The incubation period is approximately 3-7 days, after which,symptoms include:

  • Lethargy
  • Little appetite
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Dysentery
  • Increased heart rate
  • Collapse.

The disease targets rapidly dividing cells such as the intestines, preventing nutrient absorption. Here it enters the bloodstream, affecting white blood cells and weakening a dog’s immune system. 

Treatment:

If you suspect your dog has Parvovirus, you must take it to a vet. The disease can be diagnosed using an ELISA Test, electron microscopy or PCR test.

Parvo is fatal if left untreated. There is no silver bullet. However, veterinary medical intervention is required if a dog is to stand a chance of survival. To help a dog fight the disease, they should be given an intravenous drip, replacing fluid and electrolyte loss. Antiemetics can be given to stop the vomiting. Initially, neither food nor water should be given until vomiting and diarrhoea has stopped. Dogs should then be given electrolytes orally followed by a gradual introduction to bland food. Whilst antibiotics won’t cure Parvo, they may be given in case the dog further contracts a bacterial infection. 

If caught early enough and given the correct veterinary treatment, there is a good chance of survival following veterinary intervention. The quicker help is given, the greater the chances the dog will live. At IWCT, dogs with Parvo can be treated on an outpatient basis, unless they are very sick. This helps protect our rescue dogs as we are keeping contact with infected dogs to a minimum.

When we are in our new Treatment Centre, there will be quarantine kennels and more than one clinic room. This will keep infected cases separate from the rest of the Centre and increase our bio security. 

Recovery:

Once treatment is over, the dog must remain isolated from all dogs as it will be contagious for several weeks. It mustn’t socialise with other dogs in public or within the home. Not only could another dog contract Parvo from it, but it could also easily contract another infection. This is due to its weakened immune system.

A dog cannot give Parvo to humans, but humans can transmit the disease to other dogs via their clothing, footwear or skin. Therefore, owners of dogs affected by Parvo, should not touch another dog without changing their clothes and washing their hands. 

Vaccination:

Parvovirus is preventable if your dog is vaccinated against the disease. This can be done from as early as 8 weeks old. Parvo is one of the diseases the “5 in 1 vaccine” protects against. 

The 5 in 1 vaccine costs just £18 for 1 dog. Parvovirus treatment can cost between £1,000 and £1,500. By supporting our vaccination programme you are giving a young dog in the Philippines the healthiest start in life. Thank you for your support.

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