What is Parvovirus?

This past week we encountered a case of parvovirus, which is one of the top deadly viruses of our lovely canines. This virus is highly preventable to ensure the health and safety of your furry family members, in the form of vaccination (on a regular schedule).

First, let’s talk about what parvovirus is to keep everyone on the same page and spread awareness! Parvovirus is a smaller virus that is encapsulated by a protein coat. This small virus wreaks havoc when a canine, without any previous immunization, has an exposure which leads to this virus to enter the host (your furry friend) and start to rapidly divide. This virus has unique properties that make it complicated to disinfect or treat in comparison to others.

So, what can we be on the lookout for?
Symptoms of parvovirus include diarrhea (most often bloody), fever, lethargy, a decrease in weight and appetite, and vomiting. With one or more of these symptoms present it is immediately suggested that you make a trip to the vet for assessment as the earlier we catch it, the faster we can start the treatment.

So now that we know the symptomology, how is parvovirus treated?
We really rely on the patient’s immune system to help fight the virus. In addition to this, we have some basic treatments that maximize survival rates. First, the patient needs to be rehydrated with fluids to replace what is lost due to vomiting and diarrhea as well as balance the electrolytes. For those canines who are not eating, we can support and treat them with glucose that will maintain their blood sugar. Second on the list of basic treatments is antibiotics (intravenously) to attack the invading bacteria within the intestine. Third, is controlling nausea to help maintain comfort for our patients. There are several medications that are usually given intravenously. These medications are metoclopramide and maropitant. There are others as well and each medication may vary in their mechanism of action. Following this treatment regime, we monitor your furry friend extensively and note any changes.

So, how do I prevent this again?
The prevention is simple and very cost effective! Your puppy should receive parvovirus vaccinations (on a specific schedule) in addition to their other vaccinations. This is significant in that no canine is immune to this virus without vaccination and exposure sites can be literally anywhere! It is also important to maintain parvovirus vaccinations as these viruses can mutate and change in which our vaccinations must change. These measures keep our furry family safe! The best treatment is prevention.


Written by Kayla Gammon, Volunteer