Parvovirus In Dogs

Parvovirus is a highly contagious viral disease that is still widespread in some regions and is one of the most common infectious causes of death in dogs. Especially in puppies with insufficient protection due to decreasing maternal antibody concentrations and in unvaccinated dogs, a severe, often fatal course of the disease can be expected.

Recent studies in Germany have shown that the parvovirus is widespread in Germany. 15 of 21 faecal samples (71.6 %) from dogs with diarrhoea have been tested positive for parvovirus (Decaro et al. 2009).

Parvovirus is caused by various variants of the canine parvovirus (CPV 2a, 2b and 2c), a very resistant virus that can survive for weeks to months in the environment and is excreted in large numbers by infected animals: One gram of faeces can infect about one million dogs. Treatment is difficult and often unsuccessful.

The most important variant is now variant 2c, which occurs in many countries – including Spain, Germany and Great Britain – and often leads to life-threatening diseases.

Especially young, unvaccinated dogs are endangered.

In general, all dogs can fall ill from the age of 4 weeks. However, animals under one year of age are mainly affected. Puppies that are not sufficiently or no longer sufficiently protected by maternal antibodies and have not been early immunized are particularly frequently affected. For them, the danger of a generalized disease and death after 2-12 days is particularly high. If they survive the acute phase of the disease, they still often die before reaching the age of three as a result of an inflammation of the heart muscle. However, the animals can still die years later from heart failure due to organ damage caused by the virus.

Dobermannpinscher, Rottweiler and Deutsches Schäferhund are also thought to be more susceptible (predisposition to this disease).

Sources of infection lurk everywhere.

Infection occurs mainly through the ingestion of infected faeces via contaminated feed, the licking of fur and hands, carpets or clothes (risk: shoes contaminated with faeces). Other secretions or excretions play only a minor role here. Direct transmission of the virus from dog to dog is also rare.

The canine parvovirus needs cells with a high division rate such as cells of the intestinal crypts and the blood-forming or immune system to multiply.

The main symptoms are severe vomiting and watery, often bloody diarrhoea.

The severity of the disease varies greatly and its course depends on the one hand on the infection dose and on the other hand on the age and immune status of the animal. In order to keep the infection pressure low, good hygiene is very important. This prevents the puppies from coming into contact with large amounts of virus.

After an incubation period of 4-7 days, there is usually an acute course with sudden, severe and persistent vomiting. Shortly thereafter, watery, often bloody diarrhoea sets in. The animals can develop a fever of up to 41.5°C or suffer from low temperature. Due to diarrhoea and vomiting, the animals are quickly dehydrated. Deaths occur mainly in young dogs as a result of blood poisoning or endotoxin shock.

Infection of the bone marrow leads to weakening of the immune system.

Infection of the bone marrow leads to a pronounced lack of white blood cells (leukopenia), with lymphocytes being particularly affected. This results in a weakening of the immune system (immunosuppression), which in turn promotes secondary infections with bacteria or the canine coronavirus. It is not possible to treat the viral infection itself, only to try to alleviate symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and dehydration. Accordingly, the prognosis remains doubtful.

Vaccination against parvovirus is possible as early as 4 weeks of age.

The most effective protection is a puppy vaccination against all variants (CPV 2a, 2b and 2c) of the virus. Such broad protection is provided by the parvovirus vaccine strain of MSD Animal Health, which is contained in all parvovirus-containing vaccines in a very high antigen concentration. In addition, the MSD Animal Health vaccine can be used from the age of 4 weeks. Important for the development of an effective immunity is a correctly performed basic immunization (see distemper). Subsequently, a booster vaccination is only necessary every 3 years if vaccines from MSD Tiergesundheit are used. Especially before travelling a repeat vaccination is recommended.

Vaccination against parvovirus is a MUST (core vaccination). Read about activated charcoal from Home Remedies to know more!

According to the German vaccination recommendations for small animal practices, vaccination against parvovirus is one of the compulsory vaccinations (core vaccination).

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