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Dog Parvo Symptoms

Parvovirus is a viral disease occurring in dogs. It affects the puppies more commonly that the adult dogs. Read on to know about its symptoms.
Canine Parvovirus (CVP) is the most common infectious disease found in dogs. The puppies are more prone to this infection than adult dogs, as they possess an immature immune system. Parvovirus grows in the rapidly dividing cells, such as the cells of intestinal lining and causes diarrhea and ulcerative enteritis. The diarrhea may consist of blood and turn life-threatening. All breeds of dog may get infected. However, Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers are more susceptible to this infection. This virus affects only dogs and is not transmitted to humans or other species. The Parvovirus infection is transmitted through fecal waste from an infected dog.

There are two forms of CVP such as diarrhea syndrome and cardiac syndrome. Diarrhea syndrome has an incubation period of about 5-14 days. The dog's feces appear grayish, liquid and bloody. There is a rapid dehydration due to continuous diarrhea and vomiting. Cardiac syndrome affects puppies below three months old. The virus multiplies rapidly in the muscle cells of immature heart of the puppies. The puppies stop sucking and may die within few days.

Dog Parvo: Signs and Symptoms

The severity of disease depends upon the age of exposure, presence of maternal antibody, size of the virus dose and the breed of the infected dog. Some of the common symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. The dog stops eating and passes a liquid, bleeding and foul-smelling stool. The symptoms generally start with a high fever, depression, lethargy and loss of appetite. Secondary symptoms are severe gastrointestinal distress such as bloody diarrhea and vomiting. In several cases, dehydration, which is followed by shock and even death.
  • Symptoms of Intestinal Parvo: Intestinal Parvo is the most common form of this disease. The virus is transmitted by ingestion of contaminated feces and soil. This virus rapidly grows in the dog's lymphatic system. Then the virus is transmitted through the bloodstream and attacks the rapidly dividing cells of intestinal lining. The infected dog becomes weak and lethargic. Uncontrolled vomiting and severe diarrhea are the most significant symptoms of intestinal Parvo. Due to continuous vomiting, the dog experiences bowel spasms even with an emptied tract. The diarrhea is characterized by the bloody feces.
  • Symptoms of Cardiac Parvo: In some rare cases, the Parvovirus directly attacks the tissues and vessels of the heart. It leads to massive internal bleeding that in turn causes death. The cardiac form of Parvovirus is transmitted to unborn puppies through an infected mother while in the womb. The symptoms of cardiac Parvo appear very rapidly. It can lead to congestive heart failure and sudden death of the dog.
The complications can occur after several months or years after the apparent recovery. Puppies who survive from the Parvo infection remain somewhat weak and unhealthy for whole life.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Although the symptoms are suggestive of Parvo infection, an antibody test namely Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) is suggested for a correct diagnosis. This test detects the actual Parvovirus in the stool sample of an infected dog.

The infected dog experiences extreme dehydration due to continuous diarrhea and vomiting. The treatment for this infection includes IV or sub-cutaneous fluids and antibiotics. Metoclopramide and trimethobenzamide are given to relax the intestinal spasms. You can protect your dog against this infection by the means of vaccination.
By Reshma Jirage
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