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Canine Parvovirus - What you need to know

Canine Parvovirus (Parvo)

What Causes Parvo?

Parvovirus is a serious viral infection of the gastrointestinal tract of young dogs. The virus attacks the cells of the gut resulting in vomiting and diarrhoea. Parvovirus also suppresses the immune system.

The virus is highly contagious and is excreted in the faeces and body fluids.

It is very resistant in the environment. Infection can be by via direct contact with faeces or vomit from an infected dog or indirectly by exposure to a contaminated environment or objects such as bedding, food dishes, or even handlers of infected dogs. Infection results from ingesting the virus.

Outbreaks of this disease are more commonly associated with crowded environments and poor hygiene, or areas with a high dog population and low levels of dog vaccination.

Symptoms to look out for

Soon after the dog becomes infected, they may show signs such as listlessness, anorexia (failure to eat), vomiting and diarrhoea. The disease can progress to dehydration, severe lethargy and death. Sadly death can occur even with intensive treatment.

Unvaccinated dogs, especially puppies are particularly at risk.

How is Parvovirus Treated?

There is no specific treatment for canine parvovirus. Treatment is aimed at supporting the patient through the disease and reducing the severity of clinical signs.

Most dogs with parvovirus will require hospitalization for intensive treatment and nursing care. Mortality rates without treatment are very high.

Infected animals must be isolated from other dogs. Strict cleaning regimes should be followed using effective disinfectants to prevent the contamination of the environment and people’s clothing, shoes and hands.

How can I prevent my dog contracting Parvovirus?

Vaccination is by far the most effective way of preventing canine parvovirus disease. All puppies should be vaccinated with a primary course and adult dogs should be given a booster vaccine as regularly as necessary to maintain protection throughout life.

What Should I do?

If you think your puppy, or dog may have Parvovirus, or you have any concerns, please call any of our reception teams as soon as possible. Remember the Emergency Team are available out of hours should you need us.