What you don’t know can hurt you.
Canine parvoviral enteritis, commonly known as “parvo“ , is very prevalent and is frequently deadly. The word “parvo“ is Latin for “small” and refers to the size of the virus particle. A parvovirus particle is smaller than most other canine viruses. Unfortunately, it is also a very sturdy virus which is both airborne and not easy to destroy. Parvovirus is shed in the stools of infected animals for two weeks and will remain in the environment for over six months unless destroyed by chlorine bleach or other suitable disinfectants. Ordinary cleaning is not sufficient to destroy this hardy “bug”.
It can be transmitted over a mile away from the source through the air and can enter the homes of people and pets who were never near the sick patient. The incubation period of parvo is three to seven days. The infected patient generally stops eating first. Vomiting and diarrhea, which is most commonly bloody, soon begin. Young, unvaccinated pets are the most susceptible. However, it can occur in older dogs that are not up to date on vaccines and very rarely even in fully vaccinated pets.
The infected dog may have a fever. Parvovirus attacks the lining of the intestine in the crypts, causing dehydration and shock. It also attacks the bone marrow causing a severe drop in the white blood cell count. In rare cases parvo can also attack the heart.
Without prompt and aggressive treatment by your veterinarian a pet infected with parvo will likely only survive a few days. Treatment is expensive due to the cost of medications and intravenous fluids, the duration of the illness, and the intensive labor required to attempt to save the dog. Treatment is no guarantee of a cure.
The fact that hookworm infection and hemorrhagic gastroenteritis have similar signs complicates the diagnosis. Hookworms and parvovirus can also occur simultaneously.
Puppies should be vaccinated for this deadly disease at six weeks of age and every two to three weeks thereafter until at least sixteen weeks of age. Many cases are caused by owners waiting to get inexpensive vaccines until later, and later turns out to be too late !
If a person can not afford the cost of vaccines, he or she should wait to get a pet until there is enough money for preventative vaccines. Anyone who cannot afford vaccines certainly cannot afford treatment for this aggressive, deadly disease.
Any pet that dies as a result of contracting parvo should not be buried at home as this will contaminate the premises for over six months. Further, if a new pet is introduced to the household within the next year it should be given all of the series of vaccines prior to adoption.
When it comes to parvo, the old adage “ an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” holds true. It is almost always preventable by properly vaccinating your pet.
Don’t wait for parvo to strike your pet...... VACCINATE TODAY !
Provided by Nancy Gerhardt, DVM at Kindness Animal Clinic, 4525 26th Street West, Bradenton, 941-753-8948, www.KindnessVet.com