Dogs become infected with parvovirus through contact with the stool of an infected dog or a contaminated environment. The virus is very hardy and remains infective in the environment for a long time. Puppies are most susceptible to parvovirus infection.
Parvovirus causes severe and often bloody vomiting and diarrhea. Infected animals rapidly dehydrate, and severe cases progress to shock and death. Fatalities occur mostly in puppies less than 12 weeks old.
Occasionally parvovirus attacks the heart muscle of puppies and can cause sudden death.
A vaccine is available for prevention of canine parvovirus infection, and all dogs should be vaccinated annually.
Important Points in Treatment
1. Early fluid therapy is the most important factor in treating dogs with parvovirus infection. Intravenous fluids both rehydrate and nourish the sick dog.
2. Additional treatment includes prevention of secondary bacterial infection and drugs to control vomiting and diarrhea.
3. Repeated laboratory tests are necessary to monitor your pet’s white blood cell count and state of hydration.