Highly contagious with devastating consequences, canine parvovirus (CPV) presents itself in two distinct forms. Most common is the intestinal form, which is characterized by anorexia; vomiting; and diarrhea; rapid weight loss and dehydration that may lead to the dog’s death. The alternative form of canine parvovirus attacks the heart muscle; this is the cardiac form of CPV that strikes puppies, often leading to their swift demise.
CPV may be transmitted to a perfectly healthy dog if it is exposed to contaminated dog feces, in which a high concentration of canine parvovirus is found. This may happen while walking the dog or by pet owners unwittingly walking through contaminated dog fecal matter themselves and taking the virus home on the soles of their footwear. Canine parvovirus remains active and contagious for one full year; therefore, if you have lost a dog recently due to parvovirus, wait one year before purchasing another dog as you may be risking its health while the virus is still active.
Canine parvovirus in its intestinal form restricts the dog’s ability to absorb nutrients, quickly making it weak from lack of protein and fluids. The dog takes on a lethargic demeanor and is unable to eat or drink by mouth. Bloody stool and severe vomiting compound the problem making the animal even weaker. Parvovirus may lower the affected dog’s body temperature and raise its heart beat.
If you have been exposed to the virus; use bleach to wash contaminated footwear and floors to prevent the spread of this contagious disease to your pets. Bleach is the only known disinfectant that kills canine parvovirus.
Vaccinating puppies against CPV at eight, nine and twelve weeks of age may prevent them from getting canine parvovirus. Keeping puppies away from neighborhood dogs until they are 14 weeks of age greatly increases their chances of not contracting the virus.