Canine parvo virus (CPV) is a highly contagious disease. The virus is shed in the feces of infected dogs, but can be carried on a variety of objects and can live in soil. The virus can survive on inanimate objects such as clothing, food dishes, and cage floors for six months of more. The virus is hard to kill with bleach mixed 1 part bleach to 30 parts water being highly effective. Throw out dog bowls and blankets if they are easily replaced.
Puppies that are too young or where a vaccination didn't take hold are most at risk. The virus is also seen in adult dogs that have not been vaccinated. Certain breeds are also more susceptible, such as Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds.
Symptoms of Parvo
There is a wide range of symptoms experienced by dogs with parvo. Some dogs, especially adult dogs, show few symptoms. Others, especially puppies, experience severe symptoms and can even die from the disease.
Parvo spreads in the blood stream and attacks cells that rapidly divide such as those in the bone marrow and digestive system. Symptoms start with fever (which can go as high as 106 degrees), lethargy/weakness and a loss of appetite.
Parvo progresses rapidly leading to severe diarrhea and vomiting. Diarrhea is yellow in color, very foul-smelling, and often bloody. Dehydration and shock can occur within a short period of time.
If your dog has symptoms of parvo, you need to get him to the veterinarian right away. Take a stool sample with you; it will help the vet in making a diagnosis.
In addition to the gastrointestinal symptoms, the virus can also attack a dog's heart, causing congestive heart failure. This can happen months or even years after an apparent recovery from the intestinal form of the disease.
Most dogs that receive immediate treatment will recover. Your veterinarian will address dehydration first with intravenous liquids that contain replacement electrolytes. Nutrition will also be provided intravenously until your dog is no longer vomiting. Antibiotics are prescribed to avoid any infections that might form while your dog's immune system is compromised.
Parvo is a life threatening disease, so be sure your dog has received the proper vaccinations to prevent infection.
Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health