Intestinal Canine Parvovirus Symptoms

Canine parvovirus is a relatively new disease that was discovered in the late 1970's. This highly contagious canine virus can make an adult dog very sick and is often fatal in puppies. Therefore, it’s important that dog owners know the symptoms of intestinal canine parvovirus since early intervention can save a pet's life.

Intestinal Parvovirus Explained

Thought to be a mutation of the feline distemper virus, the canine parvovirus can affect a dog at any age. The parvovirus attacks a dog's intestines and causes damage to the lining of this tract. The damage can be so severe that it causes necrosis of the lining. When this happens, bacteria overtake the system and cause an intestinal infection.

If a dog survives the intestinal form of the parvovirus, they can develop myositis of the heart. When the parvovirus affects a dog's heart, the prognosis is poor.

Intestinal Canine Parvovirus Symptoms

Since the parvovirus affects a dog's intestines, symptoms related to that area of a dog's body will appear within 10 days after contracting the disease. The first signs of intestinal parvovirus are a lack of energy, a lack of appetite, uncontrollable vomiting, diarrhea that's bloody, and a fever that’s above 103-degrees F. The diarrhea and vomiting associated with the parvovirus can cause a dog to become dehydrated, which can lead to an imbalance of electrolytes. Dehydration is often the leading cause of death in dogs with the parvovirus.

The canine will lose his interest in eating because of the stomach pain he is experiencing. A dog that is vomiting will eliminate bile, which is secreted by the liver, even after the stomach is empty. A dog's diarrheas when he has intestinal parvovirus have a distinct offensive odor and will be yellow or green-ish in color in the early stages of the infection. The stool will turn darker in color as the dog passes more blood.

Since the virus attacks a dog's intestinal system, his abilities to absorb nutrients from his food diminish. Anemia can set in when proteins and blood leak in to the dog's intestines, which can also lead endotoxins to flow in the affected dog's bloodstream. A dog becomes septic when endotoxins invade the blood stream, meaning an infection is spreading via the blood. 

A dog that has the parvovirus will begin to have an offensive odor in the later stages of the disease and he will become weaker as the levels of white blood cells diminish.

Experts advise that if a dog is constantly in his pet bed, not wanting to play, he should be immediately taken to a veterinary clinic as this is not normal. The reasons behind a dog's lethargy could be attributed to dehydration, low levels of sugar in the body, or weakening of the dog's organs: these are all associated with the parvovirus.

The best way to prevent intestinal parvovirus is by vaccinating a dog against it when he is young. One should talk to their vet about any abnormal symptoms a dog may display, especially if he has not been vaccinated or was exposed to other dogs that could have been ill.