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Parvovirus

February 18th 2016

Author: Sarah Butler

This is a public awareness note as we have had a LOT of dogs coming in with parvovirus recently. Treatment is VERY intensive, very expensive, and not always successful.

A lot of owners had no idea a VACCINE IS READILY AVAILABLE, some didn't even know what parvo was, so we decided it was time to do another blurb, and get the word around. Some owners are just plain irresponsible, and the dog pays the ultimate price. So for all those puppies out there that haven't made it, and for the owners who are heartbroken because they didn't realise it....

PARVOVIRUS is a HIGHLY contagious and very deadly virus endemic in dog populations. This means it's everywhere, somewhere. It can live in the soil for years, and is resistant to most disinfectants (except special parvocide disinfectants, and bleach). So your unvaccinated pup can pick it up in a yard that housed a parvo-infected dog years ago. Scary huh?

It attacks fast dividing cells, mostly the gut lining, and the bone marrow. So these dogs present with vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, fever, sepsis, and the worst thing is they can't fight it as the virus is attacking their immune cells in the bone marrow! They can't eat or drink because their guts hurt like blazes, and if they do get something down they'll just vomit it up again. But they need to drink to make up the lost fluids from the vomiting and diarrhoea. But they can't stop vomiting. They get anaemic from losing blood in their diarrhoea, but can't make more as their bone marrow is under attack as well. They can literally paint the walls of their cages red. And their gut cramps can be so bad they can cause torsions and obstructions.

Most dogs die from dehydration, or sepsis from bacteria crossing into the bloodstream from their damaged gut lining. It's not nice, nor pretty, nor painless.

We can't 'cure' parvovirus, but we can support them as much as we can to help them get through it. We provide endless fluids into the bloodstream to replace losses from vomiting and diarrhoea. We provide antibiotic coverage, gut protectants, medicine to stop the vomiting, high calorie recovery diets (so they can get a bunch of nutrition in small amounts of food), and pain relief so they can feel like eating again as soon as they are able, as these guys will shed weight so quickly. But we can't guarantee a success. Despite our efforts some dogs still die, which is awful. And they spend their last days in isolation with minimal contact as they are so contagious. And most of these guys are just babies, and they're so sick, and they just want love. And we can't put them on our laps, or cuddle them, or handle them without gloves, or let them leave the cage before they're better. It's heartbreaking every time.

AND IT'S SO EASY TO PREVENT!!! Puppies need vaccinations at 6-8, 10-12, and 14-16wks, a yearly booster, and then every 2-3 years (as per the new WSAVA guidelines). All Australian vaccines cover the subtypes of parvo that are found in Australia. ONE PUPPY VACCINATION IS NOT ENOUGH! BOOSTERS ARE NEEDED AS ADULTS AS IMMUNITY WILL WANE!

If you have parvo, or have had it in your yard and need advice on disinfecting (remember you can spread the virus on your boots/hands etc) contact us for advice. We will help you with advice on vaccination schedules, how to isolate, how to disinfect and other questions. It's a phone call; it's easy to get the information you are looking for.  Educate yourself and those around you! Your puppy is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. In this day an age information is everywhere, everyone has smartphones. Everyone has phones! It's easy to make a phone call to a vet to get some genuine information.