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Dog Parvovirus Rears Its Ugly HeadPosted Thursday, October 16, 2008, at 8:11 PM
If your dog hasn't been vaccinated for parvo in a year or more or if your puppy hasn't had any vaccines or hasn't had a set of three then you might want to look into it. Here's why... I was going to post part 2 of getting a puppy but passing on parvo information seems more important right now. There is a lot of parvo going around in our community
Gemini's owner can vouch for it. His owners only had him for 4 days before he started showing symptoms and his bill was more than I'd care to have. In this area, you can expect $500-$1500 depending on the severity. In a large metropolitan area, veterinary care could excede $3000-$5000. Why do you think we recommend vaccines and veterinary health insurance. Sure, we'd like the income, but would prefer to avoid needing to treat sick puppies when the disease could be prevented.
Canine Parvovirus is probably the nastiest of the intestinal viruses that dogs get. Several other species of mammals including humans have their own variety of parvovirus. Feline distemper (aka panleukopenia) is related to canine parvovirus.
Parvovirus is very stable in the environment and can live in the soil for 2 years. You can carry it on your clothes, your dog can pick it up at the park or for his/her daily walk and cats and rabbits can carry it on their fur. Dogs can shed enormous quantities of the virus for 2 weeks after recovering. The virus can survive searing heat and subzero temperatures for long periods of time, and so the virus might remain long after the feces have been removed. Pretty much, this means that no environment is parvovirus free.
The virus enters the body through the mouth as the puppy cleans itself or eats food off the ground or floor. A minuscule amount of infected stool is all it takes. There is a 3 to 7 day incubation period before the puppy seems obviously ill. Upon entering the body, the virus seeks out the nearest rapidly dividing group of cells. The lymph nodes of the throat fits the bill and the virus sets up here first replicating to large numbers. After a couple of days, so much of the virus has been produced that significant amounts of virus have been released free into the bloodstream. Over the next 3 to 4 days, the virus seeks new organs containing the rapidly dividing cells it needs: the bone marrow and the delicate intestinal cells.
Within the bone marrow, the virus is responsible for destruction of young cells of the immune system. By killing these cells, it knocks out the body's best defense and ensures itself a reign of terror in the GI tract where its most devastating effects occur. All parvoviral infections are characterized by a drop in white blood cell count due to the bone marrow infection. Seeing this on a blood test may help clinch a diagnosis of parvoviral infection. Also, a veterinarian may choose to monitor white blood cell count or even attempt to artificially raise the white blood cell count in an infected puppy through treatment.
It is in the GI tract where the heaviest damage occurs. The normal intestine possesses little finger-like protrusions called villi. Having these tiny fingers greatly increases the surface area available for the absorption of fluid and nutrients. It is right at the base of the villi where the parvovirus strikes.
Symptoms include vomiting and / or bloody diarrhea leading to dehydration, depression, and without treatment eventually death. With proper hospitalization, survival rates approach 80%.
The virus kills one of two ways:
· Diarrhea and vomiting lead to extreme fluid loss and dehydration until shock and death result
· Loss of the intestinal barrier allows bacterial invasion of potentially the entire body. Septic toxins from these bacteria result in death.
Despite its nasty reputation and symptoms, parvovirus is very preventable. Puppies need vaccinated starting 5-6 weeks for a series of 3-4 shots 2-3 weeks apart and every year as adults. Even though infection is somewhat unusual in adult dogs, adult dogs should still continue their vaccinations as this is a life threatening disease for which treatment is expensive and no chances should be taken.
Should your puppy/dog come down with parvo, bleach is your best friend when it comes to disinfectants. Vaccinating after your unvaccinated dog is exposed does little to prevent the disease. Vaccinating less than 14 days prior to exposure does little to prevent the disease. One puppy vaccine does little to prevent the disease, they really do need 3, two to three weeks apart.
For health insurance www.petinsurance.com or call 888-899-4VPI
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