Also known as CPV, Canine Parvovirus is a highly contagious viral illness that can be debilitating and even fatal. It has two main forms, the more common intestinal variety, and the less common cardiac variety. Puppies aged between 6 weeks and 6 months old are most commonly affected, but early vaccinations can significantly reduce the risk of contracting CPV.
CPV is resistant to the majority of cleaning products and household bleach is the only known way to eradicate it.
The CPV virus is mainly transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal, or indirectly through contact with the stools of an infected dog which contains a heavy concentration of the virus. This contact can include inhalation as well as touch. The virus can also live in the ground for up to a year where it can be brought into contact with a dog by way of shoes.
Certain breeds of dogs are more susceptible to CPV. These are Alaskan Sled Dogs, Dobermans Pinschers, English Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Pitbulls, and Rottweilers. Dogs that take immunosuppressant medication or have not had adequate vaccinations are also more likely to contract CPV.
As with most contagious diseases, animal shelters and kennels are much more likely to be contaminated.
The intestinal variety of CPV affects an animals’ ability to absorb nutrients from their food. This means that an infected dog will rapidly become dehydrated and weak.
The primary symptoms of intestinal CPV include but are not limited to:
Anorexia / severe weight loss
Pain, particularly if the abdomen is touched
Wet tissue of eyes and mouth becomes red and inflamed
In rare cases of CPV a dog may exhibit symptoms consistent with hypothermia rather than a high fever. Cardiac CPV is extremely rare and usually only seen in very young puppies where it attacks their heart muscles. Cardiac CPV almost always results in death.