Get the facts about a dangerous, aggressive illness in dogs
Reviewed by Dr. Peter Kintzer on March 25, 2014
This is one virus you DON’T want your dog to pick up.
Canine parvovirus (CPV) is a nasty, highly contagious illness, spread from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with feces. That means that your dog can get CPV from either eating an infected dog’s poop or simply sniffing an infected dog’s hindquarters! It can be especially hard on puppies who haven’t yet been vaccinated because their immune systems haven’t yet fully developed.
CPV can affect all dog breeds, though for some reason some breeds it affects some breeds more than others, such as:
- Doberman Pinschers
- Pit bull breeds
- Labrador Retrievers
- German Shepherds
- English Springer Spaniels
CPV shows up in two forms: intestinal and, more rarely, cardiac. Symptoms of the intestinal form of CPV include:
- Extreme vomiting
- Severe diarrhea, often containing mucus or blood
- High fever or, sometimes, a low body temperature (hypothermia)
- Severe abdominal pain
Because the intestinal form of CPV results in fluid losses and because the affected intestines do not nutrients and proteins properly, he’ll weaken, lose weight and become dehydrated pretty quickly.
The cardiac form of CPV tends to attack very young puppies, causing cardiovascular and respiratory failure and, unfortunately, often leads to death.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Every minute counts when it comes to diagnosis! If your dog is exhibiting one or more of the symptoms listed above, seek emergency veterinary care as soon as possible.
CPV is an aggressive illness and dogs tend to deteriorate soon after becoming infected. If CPV is suspected, your veterinarian will first perform a physical exam and then follow up with other tests to figure out the cause of your pooch’s discomfort. Such tests include:
- A complete blood cell count (CBC) to rule out blood related conditions; a low white blood cell count is usually seen with CPV infection
- Chemistry tests to screen for kidney, liver, and pancreatic disease as well as to check sugar levels
- Fecal test to detect the presence of CPV and rule out intestinal parasites
- Abdominal imaging, through x-ray or ultrasound, to look for intestinal obstruction, enlarg
ed lymph nodes, and excess fluids in the intestines
CPV’s pretty rough on dogs and pretty much always requires hospitalization for 24-hour care and monitoring. Left untreated, dogs with the virus are likely to die. However, since it’s a viral infection,