Home Features Pet Care: ANOTHER VIRUS AILMENT IN PUPPIES AND ADULT DOGS
CANINE PARVOVIRUS (CPV)
Last week we dealt with questions pertaining to Canine Distemper. Today, we shall discuss another seriously lethal viral disease affecting unvaccinated puppies and young adult dogs, namely Canine Parvovirus (CPV).
Q: WHAT IS CPV?
A: It is a relatively easily transmitted lethal viral disease affecting unvaccinated dogs, as well as other species (e.g. foxes) globally. Although dogs of all ages can be infected with CPV, puppies (6-20 weeks old) seem to more susceptible.
[I should mention in passing that the virus causing CPV is closely related to, but quite different from, a virus affecting cats. In some older books, you may even find the name “Feline Parvovirus” listed. That disease in cats goes under a more correct name of “Feline Panleukopenia”. We must not confuse the two diseases, even though the symptoms may be similar].
Q: HOW IS CPV TRANSMITTED TO THE PUP/DOG?
A: i) From dog to dog – by direct and indirect transmission, usually via faeces, but also from the
contaminated environment in which the pups (dogs) live. Ingesting faeces which contain the virus, shed by other dogs, is a major source of infection. Even sniffing of an infected dog’s anus can facilitate transmission of the virus from one dog to another.
ii) Animals moving from kennel to kennel, or from any physical environment where the virus is present, can transfer the CPV to clean surroundings.
Q: WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CPV?
A: i) Since this virus primarily attacks certain structures in the intestinal (gut) wall, an initially soft/watery diarrhoea soon becomes a bloody discharge from the anus.
ii) As a result of the loss of fluids (due to the diarrhoea), the animal becomes quickly dehydrated, and loses important elements needed for growth and general well-being.
iii) Since the intestinal wall is weakened by the onslaught of the virus, bacteria (germs) secondarily invade the gut, causing further infection, septicemia, and deterioration of the health of the puppy (or adult), and creating a condition of shock, just prior to death.
v) Loss of appetite.
vii) Fever (especially in the first few days, at the beginning of the ailment).
Other important questions posed by caregivers:
Q: CAN HUMANS GET CPV FROM THEIR DOGS?
A: NO. Also, a dog/cat cannot be infected by a type of Parvovirus (B19) carried by humans.
Q: CAN THE PET AILING WITH CPV BE TREATED?
A: This is one canine disease for which the caregiver needs to have veterinary involvement, as early as possible. Please note the symptoms could exhibit themselves as early as 3 days after the animal has been infected.
As I had mentioned when discussing Canine Distemper (last week; Kaieteur News, November 15, 2020), the treatment has to focus on alleviating/removing the symptoms. The vet will prescribe/administer medications to counter the vomiting, fever, diarrhoea, bleeding, dehydration, listlessness, etc.
It may be better for the caregiver to leave the sick puppy/young adult dog in the vet’s hospital facilities. Where these do not exist, the vet will explain to the caregiver what he/she can administer at home and how often the ailing animal needs to return to the Clinic for treatment.
The pet owner/caregiver must recognize that not only is this viral infection lethal, but the symptoms (once they appear) are devastating. I mentioned above, for example, that vomiting and diarrhoea lead to serious dehydration. The owner might find great difficulty in rehydrating an ailing pup which regurgitates even water and surely food. The ensuing “oral liquid intake/vomit” cycle is something even the vet will have difficulty in controlling, especially if he/she is seeing the sick animal only once or twice daily. Actually, the best (only) real way to counter dehydration, while offering energy supplements and treating secondary infections, is to place the animal on an intravenous drip for long periods.
Q: HOW GREAT ARE THE CHANCES OF THE PET’S SURVIVAL?
A: The texts coming out of the USA and Europe speak of relatively high mortality rates. My own experience is that even with a relatively early CPV diagnosis (within 2-3 days post infection), many animals – especially fragile neonates (young pups) will die.
The general rule, according to many vets’ observations and experiences, is that if the disease is diagnosed early enough, and an aggressive treatment schedule is implemented and maintained, the chances of survival increase.
Nowadays, there seems to be a lower incidence of the disease in puppies and young adult dogs. This success is probably due to polyvalent vaccines (including CPV) which are routinely administered to 6-8 week-old puppies and young dogs. We must nevertheless maintain our vigilance so as to ensure that our wards do not contract this CPV disease.
A: Vaccination as early as 6 weeks of age. There is a vaccination protocol which must be followed. Booster shots must be given annually.
Q: ARE SOME BREEDS ESPECIALLY VULNERABLE TO CPV?
A: YES. It seems that German Shepherds, Dobermans, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and Labradors exhibit the greatest incidence of CPV. That is according to the available literature. Here in Guyana, CPV infects and kills all breeds, including our “common breeds” indiscriminately.
Q: IS THERE A LABORATORY TEST THAT CAN BE USED TO DETECT THIS VIRUS?
A: Yes. Your vet can and will advise the caregiver accordingly.
Q: CAN A VACCINATED PUP/DOG ACQUIRE CPV?
A: This would be highly unlikely, especially if the vaccine has been transported and stored well. It also helps immensely if the mother dog has been vaccinated before (never during) pregnancy.
Q: WHAT IS THE FUTURE LIKE FOR A DOG WHICH HAS SURVIVED CPV?
A: Once a CPV patient has recovered from the disease, it is not likely that the dog would contract the ailment again or succumb to it.
It is however important to know that dogs, having recovered from a bout of CPV, may serve as carriers and can even shed the virus, infecting the surrounding environment, thereby possibly infecting young unvaccinated animals living in the vicinity.
Q: WHAT IS THE BEST SANITIZER AGAINST CPV?
A: I always advise that any kennel and surrounding area, which had been exposed to a CPV infection, should be thoroughly cleansed with bleach (1-part bleach to 30 parts water).
I think we have covered all the salient points associated with this disease. Should you have any further questions, please contact your vet. He or she would be most willing to give you the appropriate advice and definitive answers.