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Dogs and the Parvovirus
What exactly is the Parvovirus and why is it so dangerous?
Puppies are most severely affected by Parvo.
The Parvovirus (Parvo) is a highly contagious viral disease that strikes the intestinal tract, white blood cells and in some cases, the heart muscle. This disease first appeared in 1978 and can affect dogs of all ages and breeds. For some reason, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers and Pit Bulls seem to be unusually prone to Parvovirus and may suffer more severe cases than other dog breeds.
Some of the symptoms of Parvo are smelly diarrhea that is often bloody, vomiting, dehydration, and in severe cases, fever and lowered white blood cell count. The Parvo virus quickly attacks the lining of the small intestine and can cause death within two days after the onset of the disease.
The Parvovirus is shed in feces and transmitted by oral contact with infected feces. When a puppy suddenly develops bloody diarrhea and begins vomiting, Parvo is almost always the first suspect. Veterinarians can easily diagnose this disease with a simple blood test.
Dogs with Parvovirus are almost always hospitalized due to the fact that they will need intravenous medications and fluids. There is NO cure for this virus so supportive treatments are used to inactivate the disease. Dogs affected by this illness will also receive antibiotics to help control secondary bacterial infections. Most dogs that are severely infected die within a few days.
Vaccinations are available and should be given to puppies as early as five weeks old. To be on the safe side, check with your vet!
There is a vaccination available to help fight off this deadly disease, unfortunately, there have been cases of vaccinated dogs still contracting Parvo. Puppies under 12 weeks old are most severely affected, therefore, it is recommended that they be vaccinated as early as five weeks of age (especially if they are in high risk situations). Hopefully, one day, there will be a cure for the Parvovirus. Until then, it is very important to take your dog to the vet for regular check-ups and make certain they are up to date on all of their vaccinations.
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