Parvovirus – An Increasingly Common Disease

August 17, 2011

Willow was recently acquired by new owners for their grandchild. Unfortunately, within a few days, she became very ill and was brought down to our surgery.

Parvovirus is a highly contagious condition which is very often fatal. At Donaldson’s Vets, we are seeing dogs with Parvovirus on an increasingly frequent basis and in the last year we are seeing, on average, more than one case per month.

Parvovirus is a viral disease which is incredibly resistant in the environment. It causes very severe inflammation in the lining of the intestines which leads to severe diarrhoea with haemorrhage through the lining of the digestive tract.

Parvovirus is contracted when a susceptible dog comes into contact with contaminated faecal contents. The virus can survive in the environment for up to 12 months so the faeces may have been washed away by rain but live parvovirus organisms can still infect your dog.

The signs of parvovirus can progress very quickly with animals developing signs and the condition progressing to death within hours.

When we see a dog at Donaldson’s Vets who is showing signs which are suspicious of Parvovirus, we can do a rapid in-house test on the faeces to confirm the condition. Animals are immediately treated intensively with intravenous fluids and gut protectants. Anti-viral agents can increase the likelihood of survival but can be very expensive. Modern management has increased survival rates from only 30% to up to 80% but the condition is still very serious indeed and can be very labour and medication intensive so can be expensive to manage.

Parvovirus is a very serious and highly contagious condition which is becoming increasingly common but is entirely preventable with vaccinations. Vaccinations against parvovirus are all but 100% effective but the immunity may not be long lived. Where the risk of infection is high, annual vaccinations are ESSENTIAL to maintain adequate immunity.

Check your vaccination certificates and if a booster vaccination has not been given within the last 12 months your dog may be susceptible so updating his vaccinations is essential.

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