What causes parvo in dogs? Parvo is a very common and potentially fatal dog disease caused by a virus called “parvo virus.” Like many viruses, this particular strain of the virus can be transmitted through several means, although methods vary significantly depending on the type of virus. The most common means of transmission are infection with bacteria, humans, or other animals.
The parvovirus is caused by a strain of bacteria known as parvoviridae, a term referring to a family of viruses. The name comes from a village in Russia where researchers first identified the disease: the town of Gorodnia. From there, doctors were able to describe a pathogen that seemed to only attack dogs – it had no effect on people or other animals. Later work found out that the same virus was responsible for parvo in dogs. This discovery led to further research and study.
The exact cause of parvo in dogs is unknown; however, most experts agree that it is a disease caused by a group of viruses known as parvoviridae. Dogs can be infected with parvo in a few different ways. First, the infected dog’s intestinal tract becomes infected when it eats an infected animal, or the dog itself ingests some Parvo-causing bacteria. Second, some dogs may contract parvo after being bitten by an infected animal; both of these scenarios expose the dog to Parvo while its immune system is not strong enough to fight off the illness.
In some cases, the ailment can occur after a dog is exposed to contaminated food. Virtually all commercial dog foods are tested for contamination, and many times the results will include park signs. If your dog has contracted parvo, then you should ensure that any contaminated food bowls are destroyed or sanitized using bleach and hot water. Bleach and hot water to kill any remaining germs and bacteria, preventing the virus from returning.
If your dog contracts parvovirus, the first symptoms will appear within two days of contracting the ailment. These initial symptoms, or cardinal signs, appear similar to common cold symptoms. Your dog will begin to experience loss of appetite. Fatigue sets in. The dog may start to lose his ability to perform his natural instinct to hunt. As the infection worsens, your dog will experience vomiting, diarrhea and constipation, loss of appetite, fatigue and a lowered temperature.
Once your dog has contracted the parvo virus, the virus remains in the body. Therefore, supportive care is needed to prevent the virus from damaging the body further and causing death. Treatment includes giving the dog intravenous fluids to replace lost fluids and to replace lost electrolytes. There is also need for fluid support and fluids are given intravenously to flush toxins out of the system. Fluids and electrolyte replacement are only given until the bacteria are eliminated from the body through the feces, but this is an often neglected area of treatment.
Parvo can strike in both adult and puppies. Although puppies have fewer intestinal microorganisms than older dogs, it is not uncommon for them to contract the illness. Young puppies are particularly vulnerable because their small and immature intestines are less able to cope with the toxins in their bodies. The disease can also be transferred to animals and people, especially those who are in immunized. It is important to keep your pet and family members up to date with vaccinations and regular checkups.
Because parvo has the potential to cause severe dehydration, treatment is imperative if your dog contracts the disease. Dehydration results in low levels of urine and blood, a loss of appetite and lethargy and may result in your dog displaying erratic behavior. Treatment includes fluids and electrolyte support and, in extreme cases, intravenous hydration.