What Is Parvo — and How Can You Protect Your Pet?

A Lurking Threat to South Shore Pets

If you have ever spent any time in a veterinarian’s office or around other pet owners , you have probably heard the term “parvo” bandied about. But what is parvovirus, why does it prove so deadly to animals, and how can you ensure that your dog or cat does not contract it?

Dogs and cats actually fall prey to two different types of viruses, though the similarity of the symptoms and outcome prompts us to refer to them as “canine parvo” or “feline parvo.” The two viruses are closely related but cats cannot carry or get Canine Parvo Virus, despite some internet rumors. However some cats vaccinated with or carrying Feline Distemper,(which is Feline Panleukopenia Virus), will test positive on the SNAP test for Canine Parvo Virus.  Most commonly shared symptoms include severe depression of the bone marrow, with extremely low white blood cell counts, severe diarrhea and less frequently heart or brain infection. Most intestinal Parvo infections cause lack of appetite, a high (or unusually low) temperature, vomiting and diarrhea — accompanied, not surprisingly, by significant weight loss. Abdominal pain may also occur. Severe or even fatal dehydration can set in as a result. Parvo of the heart muscle tends to afflict puppies less than 6 weeks of age, who have not received the appropriate vaccinations to ensure pet wellness, typically with fatal results. Both viruses are extremely tough to kill in the environment and can live 8-10 months on fomites or surfaces like kennel floors, counter tops or the ground. Usually shelters use 10% bleach solutions or safe and effective viricides to kill the virus.  Summer flies can carry the virus after walking across contaminated areas and land in your pets water dishes and infect your pets. Fortunately vaccination is a very effective tool to protect your pet.

Technically, Feline Parvo is actually a virus called Feline Panleukopenia Virus, or traditionally known as Feline Distemper Virus but it produces many of the same symptoms and unfortunately can prove just as deadly as its canine counterpart. As with most viruses, we must support the sick patients with intravenous fluids and intensive care long enough to set the stage, until their own immune system can kill the viral invader. Sick patients are often quarantined away from other patients in university hospitals with special isolation wards set up to gown up upon entering and decontaminate employees and waste materials as they are leaving the ward.

Schedule Those Distemper/Parvo Vaccinations at Our Animal Clinic!

Pet vaccinations against both Canine and Feline Parvo are crucial, and a veterinarian will generally administer them among these essential core vaccinations each puppy or kitten should receive. At Willard Veterinary Clinic, we issue these core vaccinations and supplement them with periodic boosters to keep your pet protected. Our South Shore veterinary clinic is very concerned if your pet has severe diarrhea. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is essential for a positive outcome. We can help you keep your pet healthy!

What steps do you take to make sure your pet is current on their vaccinations?

Blog Category: