Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious and serious disease in dogs. It can be fatal if not caught early and can affect dogs of all ages but puppies usually are the ones affected. Parvo causes enteritis in dogs. Enteritis occurs when the gastrointestinal tract gets infected; it is what makes this virus particularly dangerous for young puppies under a year and older dogs over 10 years old due to dehydration. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, fever and a loss of appetite.
Dogs with parvo can survive with quick intervention but for some the healing process can be very slow. Many dogs suffer no serious long lasting effects from the virus but there is now a new strain that has been recently discovered. This new strain is called the Canine parvovirus type 2 or CPV-2 and there is no current vaccine to protect against it. Dogs that recover from new strains or had severe cases of parvo might have some lasting effects such as heart issues but the outlook for a dog’s life is generally bright after recovery.
Prevention is Key
Prevention is one of the most important things you can do for your dog. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends vaccinating to protect your puppy from contracting the virus. The parvovirus can be difficult to avoid because the virus is resilient and can live in the environment for extended periods, even up to a year.
There are some people who disagree with the AVMA about their stance on vaccinations and parvo. The Natural Rearing Breeders Association is a group founded by some veterinarians who discourage against vaccinating because they believe that the foundation of optimal health for dogs is a raw diet. Their belief is a dog that has a natural diet will develop a strong immune system that won’t succumb to diseases and viruses like parvo. Some of their research shows that a puppy that has contracted the virus has a smaller chance of survival if it has already been vaccinated or wormed than one that has not received the vaccination or worming.
Life After Parvo
Dogs and puppies that survive can make a full recovery and not develop any health issues or complications. While the majority of dogs that survive make a full recovery, parvo does have a lasting effect on some dogs. Some people have reported their puppies to have stunted growth after recovery. Parvo can also cause brain damage in the later stages so if a puppy has recovered from a severe case, they might suffer from some brain damage. The brain damage might cause some behavior issues such as anxiety and in rare cases, aggression triggered by fear. Some people have reported that their dogs weren’t “right in the head,” after recovering from a severe case.
Cases where parvo causes brain damage in dogs or puppies are rare. The majority of dogs that recover live normal and full lives. After dealing with a dog that has contracted parvo, the owner has to take precautions to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread to other dogs. This means fully disinfecting everything the dog has come into contact with. The parvovirus is a resilient virus that is very hard to eradicate because if your dog had access to a yard, how do you disinfect an entire yard? Even if it’s a small yard, it might prove to be challenging to disinfect the lawn and dirt patches. Your vet will be able to provide you information on how to disinfect everything and ensure that visiting dogs won’t be at risk of contracting parvo.