Parvo is short for parvovirus. Parvovirus is not just one of the biggest dangers puppies face. It is also one of the biggest global killers of wild as well as domestic canids.
If you think your dog might have parvo, it is important to take them to your vet immediately.
A Short History of Parvo in Dogs
According to the Indian Journal of Virology, parvovirus was first identified and named in 1978.
Since then, researchers have confirmed that two different major strains of parvovirus, CPV-1 and CPV-2, can infect canids, including pet dogs. There are also several newly identified sub-strains, or mutations, including 2a, 2b and 2c.
The CPV-2 strain overall is far more deadly, although both strains can cause worrisome health symptoms for puppies or dogs that a qualified veterinarian can perform.
How Is Canine Parvovirus Transmitted?
Parvovirus is actually not an airborne virus, which means it does not transmit via aerosol droplets (like, for example, the virus that causes COVID-19 in people and animals).
Parvovirus is transmitted through surface contact. And once an area is impacted, it can spread from one dog to another very quickly.
However, once your dog or puppy has been infected by a strain of parvovirus, it can still take up to seven days for the first symptoms to appear.
Generally speaking, it will take between three and seven days before symptoms show up. Knowing this can help you retrace your steps to identify where your dog might have come in contact with the virus.
Parvovirus is most commonly transmitted through canine feces.
While your dog or puppy could potentially encounter active parvovirus anywhere an infected dog has been, the most common places where dogs can come into contact with parvovirus include these areas:
– Doggy daycare or dog boarding facilities.
– Training kennels.
– Veterinary clinics.
– Animal emergency clinics.
– Dog parks.
– Public parks and public dog-friendly areas.
What Are the Health Symptoms of Parvo in Dogs?
Because parvovirus can potentially be fatal and needs prompt attention, it is important to familiarize yourself with the major symptoms of the disease.
According to PetMD, these are the main reported symptoms of parvo in dogs:
– Abdominal pain and bloating.
– High fever.
– Lack of interest in eating.
– Rapid heart rate.
– Dehydration (from vomiting and diarrhea).
These symptoms arise as the most obvious signs of something much worse taking place internally. Parvovirus attacks the cells of your dog’s body as they are dividing. This means the bone marrow and the intestinal tract are key areas affected by parvovirus.
Can You Catch Parvo From Your Dog?
Luckily, canid parvo is not considered to be a zoonotic disease, or one that can be transmitted between people and animals.
In fact, cats have their own version of parvo. So do humans. But different species can’t “trade” strains of the virus back and forth.
How Is Parvovirus Diagnosed and Treated?
Parvovirus is typically diagnosed with two steps.
1. Step one: identifying matching symptoms in the canine patient.
2. Step two: performing medical tests to confirm the virus is present in the dog’s body.
It is important to get an accurate diagnosis so the veterinarian knows which strain your dog is carrying and can tailor the treatment to that strain.
As the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) explains, currently there is no treatment except to manage symptoms.
The goal is to keep your dog’s systems from shutting down for long enough to give the immune system time to defeat the virus.
Can Canine Parvovirus Be Prevented?
As the American Kennel Club (AKC) points out, the best method of protection against canine parvovirus is vaccination.
As a protective measure, young puppies should be quarantined away from other dogs until they have been properly vaccinated against canine parvo.