Q. What are the typical symptoms for parvo, and what is the treatment?
A. Canine Parvovirus is an extremely contagious disease where infected animals shed billions of virus particles in their feaces during the illness and up to 2 weeks afterwards.
Infection occurs through the oro-feacal route, the virus is extremely resistant and can remain infectious for many months in the environment.
Clinical signs occur 5 days after being in contact with the virus and include anorexia, lethargy, vomiting and profuse diarrhea, often containing blood. Symptoms can progress to sepsis and other complications, leading to death especially in young puppies or in predisposed breeds such as Rottweilers and Dobermans.
Parvovirus is suspected in all young dogs presenting with vomiting and diarrhea, lethargy and leukopaenia. Severe leukopaenia corresponds to a poorer prognosis. Diagnosis can be confirmed on a faecal laboratory test, with positive results being considered a reliable indicator of positivity for the infection.
Treatment is supportive and aimed at restoring electrolytes imbalances, correcting dehydration, prevent secondary infections and controlling hypogliacaemia. Aggressive intravenous fluid therapy is required until vomiting stop and eating starts again. Initially small amount of bland diet should be fed and a gradual transition to the usual diet should be made. Vomiting can take up to 5 days to resolve.