Treat and Protect your Dog from Parvovirus

Parvovirus is a horrible disease which has the potential to be fatal.  It is highly infectious and typically affects puppies.

Having a litter of puppies with parvovirus can be heartbreaking to witness and without early intervention and treatment many of the puppies will die.

Young puppies and dogs that have not been vaccinated are particularly susceptible and the death rate in puppies that are not immunised can be greater than 80 per cent.

What is canine parvovirus?

Canine parvovirus  is a highly infectious virus that attacks the gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular systems of dogs.  It is normally spread through contact with the faeces of an infected dog.   Puppies and older dogs that are not vaccinated are most susceptible to the virus.  

Humans cannot get canine parvovirus but they can spread the disease to other dogs.  For example, if you pat an infected dog and then pat your own dog when you get home, you may pass on the virus.

Parvo symptoms in dogs

The virus mostly commonly attacks the gastrointestinal tract in dogs and symptoms include lethargy, severe vomiting, loss of appetite and bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea.  The vomiting and diarrhea can lead to serious dehydration which may in turn lead to death.

A less common form of the virus can attack the heart muscle, causing breathing difficulty. 

Symptoms will often come on suddenly and your dog’s condition can deteriorate rapidly. 

In the early stages you may notice that your dog is tired and unwilling to play.   Then he may start vomiting and have diarrhea. 

Early symptoms may be similar to those of other viruses or conditions so it is important to be vigilant and regularly monitor for symptoms that may indicate that something serious is happening. 

An accurate diagnosis is important and prompt supportive treatment will provide you with the best outcome.

Just how common is Parvovirus? 

Parvovirus is common in areas of low vaccination rates.  When an outbreak is occurring in your area, it will usually be reported in the local media.

Parvovirus is extremely contagious and can be transmitted by any person, animal or object that comes in contact with an infected dog’s feces.

Treating Parvo

There is currently no drug that can kill the virus in an infected animal and treatment involves addressing the symptoms of the disease, such as intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration, antibiotics to ward off secondary infections and drugs to control the vomiting.  

Some infected dogs may require a blood or plasma transfusion if they have lost a lot of blood.

Treating a dog with parvovirus is often extremely expensive due to the intensity and length of treatment in a vet surgery.  There is no guarantee that your dog will survive parvovirus no matter how good the care. The best form of treatment is prevention.

Dogs or puppies with parvovirus should be isolated from uninfected dogs immediately.

Parvovirus can live for months in the environment so if you have an infected dog, you will need to clean and disinfect your house and garden. 

The virus is resistant to many typical disinfectants although bleach appears to be effective.    Carpets and outdoor areas that cannot be cleaned with bleach may need to be sprayed with a disinfectant suitable to such areas.

Alternative or complementary treatment for Parvo

An alternative treatment that has had so some success in dealing with the awful effects of parvovirus is photonic therapy.   It can slow deterioration and generally make your pet feel more comfortable.  

Similar to acupuncture, the treatment is applied to known acupuncture points on the body.  Instead of using needles though, a red light is used.     The light is generated from a torch-like utensil.    

Applying the red light at known acupuncture points causes signals through the nervous system which support healing.    The release of neurochemicals during the therapy can also provide pain relief and promote feelings of well-being. 

Photonic therapy is non-invasive, causes no pain or side effects and can be administered by you at home. 

Photonic therapy has been found to be an effective complementary treatment for many other conditions, including distemper, kennel cough, arthritis and eczema.    

To find out more about photonic therapy, its application and uses go here.

Protect against Parvo

The best way to protect your dog is to ensure regular and up to date vaccinations.   Puppies can and should be vaccinated with combination vaccines for a number of diseases, for example parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis and parainfluenza. 

Generally, the first vaccine is given at 6-8 weeks of age.  A booster is given at four-week intervals until the puppy is 16-20 weeks of age, and then again at one year of age.   Ask your vet about how often your older dog needs to be vaccinated.

If your dog did not have a complete course of vaccinations while a puppy, then he may be susceptible to parvovirus.