This highly contagious virus is especially deadly for young and unvaccinated puppies, which is why vets are really not joking whenever they say that you should not miss your vaccination appointment date and that you need to keep your dog in quarantine during his immunization period.
But, even though this is a virus that usually affects young dogs, it doesn’t mean that older dogs can’t be affected. The difference is that older dogs just have a better chance of fighting it off successfully. Let’s learn about the parvo virus infection and how much should an owner expect to pay for this treatment.
What is parvo infection in dogs?
Parvovirus infection in dogs is caused by the canine parvovirus, which is similar to the feline panleukopenia virus. This is a highly contagious and easily spread virus that is very resistant in the environment.
Puppies usually get it by sniffing and licking infected feces or if they come into contact with a puppy that already has the virus. Another way for puppies to get the virus is indirectly when puppies share bowls of food or toys together. This is why vets always recommend the separation of puppies that show signs of parvovirus and disinfection.
The virus affects the gastrointestinal system of dogs. This leads to severe bloody diarrhea and vomiting, which are the first signs owners may notice in puppies infected with parvo.
Once the virus gets into the intestines and destroys the lining, leading to loss of fluids and from there it travels to the bone marrow and sometimes it could reach the heart, causing inflammation of the heart known as myocarditis. This is the reason why some puppies may die suddenly.
What are the signs of parvo in puppies?
The first thing an owner notices in a sick puppy is that it would not eat or drink or play, which is unusual. Another sign that is significant for the identification of the disease is the specific smell of bloody diarrhea. Once you have smelled that you cannot miss it a second time.
Puppies also tend to vomit a lot. All of this leads to severe dehydration. That is why puppies are relatively lethargic and prefer to sleep.
We cannot express the importance of taking your puppy to the vet if you notice any of these signs, as well as making sure your other dogs are isolated from the puppy.
You should also watch out for signs in your other dogs if they have been in contact with the sick puppy.
How is parvo diagnosed in puppies?
Whenever an owner brings us a puppy that is throwing up and has dark brown diarrhea, we pretty much know what is bothering them. But vets still run some diagnostics such as blood work and biochemistry as well as a snap test to confirm parvo.
The blood work shows the degree of dehydration and what the vet is fighting against. Bear in mind this is a very serious illness and sometimes puppies don’t make it. The fast snap test usually just confirms our greatest fear that we are fighting off a decent opponent.
Treating parvo in dogs
No matter whether we are treating puppies or adult dogs, the protocol is the same.
They are all going to be severely dehydrated and they will receive aggressive fluid therapy. They are all vomiting so they are getting anti-vomiting drugs and drugs to make their tummy feel less nauseous. All of them have diarrhea so the vet will also try and give them probiotics.
Many times vets give antibiotics for this viral infection. The reason for that is because of the damage to the intestines, the puppy is most likely to develop a secondary bacterial infection and vets usually want to be on top of this. Keep in mind, not every puppy can be saved.
This is why prevention is the best option. This means vaccinating your puppy on time and following the instructions given by the vet.
A dog owner, in the US, could pay between $500 and $2000 to treat parvo in his dog.