Canine Parvovirus (CPV) is a highly contagious viral disease that attacks the intestinal tract,
white blood cells, and sometimes the heart. This disease is known worldwide.
Parvovirus infection is spread by dog-to-dog contact.
Wherever a lot of dogs gather (I.E. dog shows, obedience classes, kennels, pet shops, animal shelters, etc.), there is an increased risk of exposure to this potentially fatal infection. The most common means of transmission is through the feces of an infected dog. The fecal matter of an infected dog contains the virus and can be transmitted by other dogs sniffing or consuming the infected feces or by tracking the infected fecal matter in on shoes. Only canines can be infected with Parvovirus. Humans and other animals can't contract Parvovirus. This is strictly a canine disease.
The symptoms of Canine Parvovirus (which often appear 5-7 days after the dog is exposed) are:
Loss of appetite
Blood streaked stool
Most of the deaths occur within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms. The dog will dehydrate fast from all the vomiting and diarrhea and will die from it. Some may not get as severe and will recover.
Another form of parvovirus is myocarditis (inflammation of the heart). This occurs more commonly in puppies under 3 months of age. Some will die within days of contracting this with little or no symptoms, where others will overcome the infection yet have weakened hearts which could cause them to die from heart failure even after they seem like they have recovered. The first sign of trouble with young puppies is they stop nursing and then die sometimes within minutes of the onset of symptoms
To diagnose Parvovirus, a vet will take a stool sample and test for the virus. Once it has been confirmed the vet will administer medicine to try and stop the vomiting and diarrhea, and will also try to replace lost fluids. The vet may also give antibiotics to prevent secondary infections from occurring. There is no known cure for Parvovirus, so prevention is the key.
There is a vaccine for Parvovirus that is usually administered mixed with the other vaccines for distemper hepatitis and others. This is a shot your vet will give the dog annually. Sanitation is another key to prevention. Parvovirus can live for months on any surface and can survive many extremes. The best way is to sanitize shared areas with household bleach. Also, make sure that all waste is cleaned up on a regular basis.