Canine Parvovirus is a common gastrointestinal infection of dogs that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea. The primary source of CPV is from the feces of infected dogs. The virus is very stable in the environment and is resistant to heat, detergents, alcohol and many disinfectants. There are various forms of transmission due to the stability of the virus. For instance, the hair or feet of an infected dog, shoes, clothes, and other inanimate objects, which have been contaminated by infected feces, can all transmit the virus. For unknown reasons, breeds that are more sensitive to CPV include: Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, Pit bulls, Labrador retrievers, German shepherds, English springer spaniels and Alaskan sled dogs.
Once ingested, the virus causes intestinal inflammation. The most common symptoms include severe vomiting and diarrhea, vomiting usually occurs first. Infected dogs may also exhibit a lack of appetite, listlessness, depression, and fever. CPV is capable of affecting dogs of all ages, but is most common in dogs less than one year of age and even more common in puppies less than five months of age. There is no available treatment to kill the virus after it has infected a dog. However, veterinarians are able to treat the symptoms the virus causes. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance are corrected by administering intravenous fluids containing electrolytes. Medications frequently used for treatment include: anti-emetics for vomiting, antacids for nausea, antibiotics to combat sepsis, and analgesics for gastrointestinal discomfort. Aggressive therapy improves survival, but mortality rates may still approach 30% which is primarily due to septic shock.
Following a proper vaccination protocol is the best method of protection against CPV. Puppies will receive a series of four parvo vaccinations three to four weeks apart starting at six to eight weeks of age until at least four months of age. After the initial puppy series of vaccinations, all dogs should be given a booster vaccination at one year. Therefore your veterinarian will discuss an appropriate revaccination protocol with you based on your particular dog's exposure to CPV.