A healthy dog is a happy dog. Which is easier said than done, what with dogs sticking their noses everywhere and licking everything they come across.It’s no wonder that dogs are such magnets for viruses, bacteria and parasites.
If your dog has any of the following symptoms: fever, dehydration, vomiting or loss of appetite, it may have contracted the parvovirus, which is a disease that should not be taken lightly.
What is the parvovirus?
Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that attacks the cells of the small intestine as well as white blood cells. It causes hemorrhagic gastroenteritis and weakens the immune system, leaving dogs exposed to infection. The virus is highly resistant and can often even be fatal in dogs. It’s highly contagious to other dogs, less so to cats, and poses no risk to humans.
The vast majority of dogs that contract the parvovirus are puppies less than 8 months old and unvaccinated adult dogs. Some breeds also seem to be more susceptible to the virus, including Labradors, Dobermans, Rottweilers, Pit bulls and German shepherds..
The disease is contracted after the virus comes in contact with the oral mucosa and is transmitted through direct contact between dogs or by coming into contact with the feces or vomit of infected dogs. Infected animals often require hospitalization with intensive care (IV, antibiotics, etc.).
If a dog with the parvovirus is hospitalized, extreme care must be taken to not contaminate others, both caregivers and four-legged patients alike. Most veterinary clinics have quarantine kennels for contagious animal and all handling of animals within these isolated areas should be done wearing single-use disposable gloves and a gown that will not leave the quarantine zone. All materials and equipment used on infected animals, such as thermometers, scissors, clippers, etc.) must never leave the room where they were used. It is also recommended to use a disinfectant with a claim against the virus as part of a strict disinfection protocol.
The best way to prevent disease is through vaccination, which offers highly effective protection against serious and often fatal contagious diseases such as the parvovirus.
Prevention also entails disinfecting facilities and items, such as pillows, cages and the lower half of walls that have been soiled by sick dogs. The parvovirus is very hardy and can survive for months. It can withstand even vigorous cleaning and is resistant to many conventional disinfectants, including alcohol-based, acid-based and ether-based disinfectants, as well as to quaternary ammoniums. Bleach-based and hydrogen peroxide-based disinfectants are the most effective against the disease.