Parvo Virus in Dogs

Canine parvovirus, normally referred to as Parvo, is a highly infectious, potentially fatal disease of dogs.  The majority of cases are seen in puppies and young dogs, but any age dog can contract this terrible disease.

Parvo is extremely contagious and can be transmitted by any person, animal or object that comes in contact with an infected dog’s faeces. Highly resistant, the virus can live in the environment for months, arguably years, and may survive on inanimate objects such as food bowls, shoes, clothes, carpet and floors. It is common for an unvaccinated dog to contract Parvo from the streets, especially in urban areas where there are many dogs.

The main symptoms associated with the infection include severe, bloody and foul smelling diarrhoea, lethargy anorexia, fever, vomiting, and severe weight loss.

Parvo can be diagnosed on a rapid test performed at the clinic. Treatment for Parvo may require intensive therapy. Most patients will need to be hospitalised in the isolation ward, placed on intravenous fluids, given specialised nutrition, antibiotics and anti-nausea drugs. Special gowns, gloves, footwear and other disposable items are used in their care.  It may take several days before a patient shows improvement.

Some patients do not survive. Many pets are euthanised due to the cost of treating this disease.

It is, however, very easy to prevent Parvo. Vaccination is highly effective , and every dog should be vaccinated. All puppies should receive their full course of vaccinations, and adult dogs vaccinated at the recommended intervals throughout their life.

Wellness and Your Pets

Lifestageby Tracey Wallace BVSc

As vets, our goal is to help you to keep your pets in the best of health. A relatively new approach to this is the development of ‘wellness’ plans, so that we can be proactive in managing your pet’s health through their lifestages; from kitten- or puppy-hood through their adolescence and into adulthood, and then supporting them through their senior years. Proactive healthcare is tailored to your pet, and varies depending on a number of factors such as:

  • Size: A Great Dane puppy requires a very different feeding and exercise programme than is needed by a Chihuahua puppy.
  • Lifestyle: A Border Collie competing in agility competitions will need more special attention to joint health than a Bichon Frise that walks with her elderly owner.
  • Age: Kidney function deteriorates with age, and early detection will improve quality and quantity of life.
  • Medical history: A pet that has suffered from pancreatitis will need to be monitored for the development of diabetes.
  • Breed: Many dogs and cats, both purebred and crossbred, can be affected by inherited diseases. It is now possible to DNA test your pet to screen for most of these diseases. While we cannot prevent all of them, we can help to minimise the impact on your pet’s health.

Wellness plans help to identify and treat problems early, before they become more serious and harder to manage. This is why it is important for healthy adult pets to have regular check-ups. Pets age 5-10 year equivalents for every human year, as indicated on the feline chart.

Dogs and cats will often hide pain, and very rarely complain about feeling unwell. Some of their problems may not be obvious to you (the owner) as there are not always external signs of illness, particularly in the early stages of disease.

By knowing what to watch out for at each stage of your pet’s life, we can help to ensure that you and your pet enjoy a long and healthy life together. As the old adage says, ‘Prevention is better than cure’!