Choosing a Canine Medicine for Parvovirus

Since there is no cure for parvovirus, there is no canine medicine for its cure; however, there are medications to help with the secondary elements of the disease.

Causes and Effects of Parvovirus

Parvovirus is a highly contagious, often fatal, virus that affects the heart muscles in puppies and the intestines of older dogs. This usually results with bloody diarrhea, vomiting and rapid dehydration. It can affect any breed, gender, size or breed of dog. Survivors, though rare, carry the virus for more than a year. The virus is heavily concentrated in infected dog's stool. When another dog sniffs where an infected dog has eliminated, this dog can become infected. This is the most common transmission (fecal-oral). Transmission can occur for at least 3 weeks after becoming infected with or without signs of the disease.

The virus can survive outside of the body on clothing, shoes, bowls, beds and many other surfaces for as long as 6 months. A dog can become infected indirectly with contact with one of the contaminated surfaces. Only bleach and sunlight can kill this virus. General dog health, age and environmental factors affect the severity of the disease.

Symptoms of Parvovirus

Clinical signs of parvovirus are:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Bloody diarrhea with a very foul odor
  • Rapid dehydration
  • Low white cell count
  • Possible shock leading to death
  • Crying, difficulties breathing (for puppies only)
  • Unwillingness to nurse (for puppies only)
  • Irregular heartbeat (for puppies only)

Treating Secondary Infections from Parvo

Since there is no cure for parvovirus, treatment involves preventing any secondary infections, treating dehydration, blood loss due to diarrhea and heart attack (for puppy parvovirus). Administration of dog medicine for the diarrhea and vomiting will prevent further dehydration, which is one of the primary causes of death in regards to parvovirus.

Early fluid therapy given intravenously is another important step in dog care. Antibiotics may be used to address any other secondary infection. Hospitalization for several days may be necessary to ensure survival but that carries no guarantees. A dog recovering from parvovirus is susceptible to other diseases.

Preventing Parvovirus with Vaccinations

Vaccinations are the best defense against parvovirus. However, dogs remain highly susceptible to parvovirus until 2 to 4 weeks after the last injection of the full immunization series. It is important to vaccine a puppy every 3 to 4 weeks until the puppy is at least 16 to 18 weeks old.

As stated before, this virus is very hardy and can live for a long period of time without a host. Clorox (1 part to 30 parts water) is effective in disinfecting inanimate objects, such as clothes, floors, etc.