If your veterinarian suspects that your dog’s diarrhea and depression are symptoms of canine parvovirus, you will need to admit your furry family member to the hospital for aggressive treatment. Canine parvovirus attacks the gastrointestinal system and bone marrow, leaving your dog’s system vulnerable to a secondary bacterial infection. The disease is fatal if it is not treated with supportive care and drug therapy, including antibiotics to combat further infection.
A Dangerous Disease for Dogs
Canine parvovirus is a particularly hardy and highly aggressive virus that causes a potentially fatal infection in dogs. Dogs under six months of age who have not yet achieved immunity through vaccination against the disease are the most commonly afflicted. The virus infiltrates cells in your dog’s intestines and bone marrow. White blood cells are destroyed, breaking down your dog’s ability to fight off bacterial infection. The symptoms of canine parvovirus include severe lethargy, loss of appetite and putrid-smelling diarrhea that may contain obvious amounts of blood. Dogs with this illness may vomit, and their abdomens may appear tightly pulled in as they tense in discomfort. Patients quickly dehydrate and decline rapidly, and death will result if no medical intervention is promptly administered.
Supportive Care and Treatment
Canine parvovirus requires several days of hospitalization and intensive care. Because parvovirus is a contagious disease, your dog will be placed in isolation, away from other patients. He will receive intravenous fluid therapy to combat dehydration that results from extensive vomiting and diarrhea. In addition to the lactated ringers solution, potassium may also be infused to aid in maintaining your dog’s electrolyte balance. Dextrose may be added to the fluid bag for smaller dogs that are prone to hypoglycemia, especially since a dog with canine parvovirus is unable to take in food. Injectable anti-nausea drugs, such as metoclopramide, will be administered. Your vet will run blood tests to monitor your dog’s white cell count and blood protein levels. Antibiotics will also be administered to help assist your dog’s immune system.
Commonly Used Antibiotics
Your dog’s intestine normally houses bacteria. When the parvovirus attacks the intestine, it causes ulceration of the tissues. Once this occurs, bacteria leak from the intestines into the bloodstream. To prevent sepsis, antibiotics must be given. Since your dog’s gastrointestinal system is compromised and unable to tolerate pills, all drugs must be administered by injection. One of the most commonly used antibiotics in patients with canine parvovirus is cefazolin, a broad-spectrum antibiotic that is effective at combating sepsis. Metronidazole is an effective antibiotic for fighting intestinal infections. Cefatoxin is another broad-spectrum antibiotic, favored because it poses minimal side effects. Other antibiotics that are used in treating dogs with parvovirus include ampicillin, gentamicin and trimethoprim-sulfa.
Prognosis and Prevention
Despite the severity of canine parvovirus, roughly 80 percent of dogs who receive prompt hospitalization respond to treatment. For about a month after being discharged from the hospital, your dog will need to rest at home, eat small meals of a bland diet, be closely monitored and receive plenty of your love and emotional support. If your dog has vomited or had any accidents in the home, clean the washable areas with a solution of 4 ounces of bleach to a gallon of water. Parvovirus is resilient in the environment for months. Even the freezing winter temperatures will not destroy them. Assume that dog parks and other places where you may walk your dog publicly are contaminated. The best way to prevent canine parvovirus in your dog is to follow your veterinarian’s recommended vaccination protocol against the disease.