Parvovirus is a highly infectious virus majorly affecting dogs and other domestic animals like cats. The puppies below three to four months and dogs which are not vaccinated appropriately are very vulnerable to contracting the virus. It exists in two different forms: the intestinal form which is more common and mostly characterized through vomiting, loss of weight and lost appetite and the other which exists in cardiac structure though it is less frequent and only primarily attacks the young puppies in their heart muscles. This uncommon form of parvovirus attacks young puppies of between six weeks to six months. Its prevalence has been significantly reduced through vaccination.
Parvovirus in Puppies and Dogs
However, as much as there are several ways in which puppies and dogs can contract the disease, parvovirus is primarily through direct contact with the dog or young puppy with a dog which has been infected. Or it can be indirectly oral eating of the feces. Studies have shown that high concentrations of the virus are found in the stool of the infected dog. Now if a healthy puppy or dog sniffs the feces from the infected one, possibly it will be infected (Sterling, 2016). Undeniably, the virus can be carried through various ways into the dog's environment. This includes, for example, when a walking person steps on the stool of an infected dog or puppy and walks into the atmosphere where a healthy dog is, it will contract the virus. Various research has shown that the virus can survive in the soil for even a year and therefore it resists most cleaning agents and also changes in the weather conditions. At the same time, if proper vaccination procedure is not followed, it can equally lead to parvovirus infection. Most dangerous places for puppies and dogs are kennels which are not adequately taken care of and holds dogs which are not sufficiently vaccinated (Truyen, 2006)
Therefore, in cleaning an area that has been contaminated by parvovirus, all the organic materials like feces and vomit should be safely and keenly picked and disposed of carefully. After which that contaminated area should be washed thoroughly with a bleach solution used in the household. This disinfectant is one of the few known to destroy the virus. Some types of the dog breeds are found to be very vulnerable to contracting parvovirus for entirely unknown reasons. It is also believed that some drug treatments used to reduce the usual reaction of the immune system may also increase the infection.
Truyen (2006) mentions that the diagnosis of parvovirus is based on tests carried out in laboratories, through examining the dog or puppy physically and also considering the dog's history with the disease. It is worth noting that there is no specific drug used to cure the disease or to kill the virus in the infected dog. The vaccination helps the body system of the puppies and dogs to grow until their immune system can be able to fight the infection caused by the virus. Immediately the signs are detected, treatment should be started especially in dogs by giving appropriate care to avoid instances of dehydration caused by massive loss of fluids and proteins and excessive vomits thereby controlling secondary attacks. Dogs and puppies that are sick need to be kept warm and proper care given to them. It is advisable to take appropriate measures and provide attention to dogs because it is costly to treat this disease and despite aggressive treatment, the dog may die. Hence recognizing the condition much earlier through various tests on the dog is quite essential for the successful life of the dog.
The various prevention measures that can be taken by the owner of the dog or puppy to prevent the acquisition of the virus can include avoiding areas where unvaccinated dogs are with your puppy or dog as this will help to reduce the vulnerability of the dog towards getting infected by others. There, places like a pet store, dog parks, and even other public places should highly be avoided up to a stage when the dog or puppy has been vaccinated. Another appropriate measure that can be taken to prevent the dog from contracting this virus is by avoiding exposure to the dogs that could be having the illness until and unless they have been vaccinated fully. By making sure that vaccination is done correctly to a dog and puppies also are immunized between four to eight weeks of age, this will help their bodies to develop immunity towards the virus. In addition to vaccinations administered, boosters should also be given to the dog after every three weeks up to when the puppy is sixteen weeks old. Truyen, U. (2006).This should also be repeated when the dog is one year old. Dogs that had been vaccinated initially only need to be administered a booster just every year. It is equally advised that any person who works in places where there are dogs should ensure that they change their attires before they get contact with their pets at home. Another measure that should be taken is that immediately you observe that your dog has any of the listed signs of the disease, it should be sought to the veterinary as soon as possible (Miranda et al. 2015). It should, however, be noted that as much as there are several symptoms of parvovirus in dogs, dogs infected may only show one sign. Because this virus is complicated to destroy and can survive even up to one year, it is, therefore, advisable to thoroughly clean the house and yards with a dilution of bleach as soon as it is suspected that the places have been infected. The owners of dogs and puppies should note that the parvovirus exists in various surfaces including doors, carpets among others and therefore utmost care should be put in place. Lastly, another measure that should be taken is that you should carry your puppy in the arms and leave them in the lap as they wait while visiting a vet for routine check-up (Truyen, 2006).
As had been stated above, treatment of this kind of disease is costly. It is true that there is no known drug that can be used to destroy and kill parvovirus in the infected dogs. The treatments administered in the dogs body are only meant to protect them until their bodies develop a robust, resistant system that can help to fight the virus. As soon as the signs are slightly observed, of which not all of the symptoms can show, appropriate treatment should be carried out through thorough care efforts to prevent cases of dehydration, diarrhea and even vomiting. This will help to curb secondary infections. It is essential to echo once again that when a dog contracts this virus, it becomes costly to deal with and the life of the dog may be lost irrespective of the intensive treatment given. It is, therefore, better to identify and recognize earlier for timely treatment. If the dog is treated adequately, there is a high percentage that the dog will survive. Because this virus is known to be highly infectious, dogs infected should be isolated to reduce the increase of this infection.
The fatality rates mostly occur when a pregnant dog is infected with this virus. This may cause the death of the adult without any observed sign of the disease. This is because the parvovirus had already passed through the placenta and infected the fetus. This leads to complicated cases of abnormalities. In some of the cases, the puppies are born with mental complications. Instances of unattended parvovirus are said to have fatality rates of around 90% while survival rates as a result of intensive therapy range from 80-95%. Unlike in adult dogs, puppies and small dogs in most breeds like Pomeranian and Rottweiler, the rate of survival is a little bit lower (Truyen, 2006).
The usefulness of parvovirus vaccine depends on the antibodies present in the milk of the mother. The antibodies help to neutralize the vaccine effectiveness hence protecting the dog from getting the disease in the vaccine. Caution should however be taken as the dog will still be vulnerable to that infection even from sources which are externally contaminated. Likewise, the antibodies may be slow to offer enough protection to the dog when the vaccine is given thereby leading to severe infections by the virus.
In conclusion, parvovirus is a dangerous and unique form of the virus in dogs, and therefore it will be of benefit to the pet owners to ensure that they take appropriate care to their animals to avoid infection. In any case, its contracted accidentally be taken as the dog will still be vulnerable to that infection even from sources which are externally contaminated. Likewise, the antibodies may be slow to offer enough protection to the dog when the vaccine is given thereby leading to severe infections by the virus.
In conclusion, parvovirus is a dangerous and unique form of the virus in dogs, and therefore it will be of benefit to the pet owners to ensure that they take appropriate care to their animals to avoid infection.
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