Parvovirus: What can you do to keep your dog safe?
UK dog owners will no doubt be concerned to hear the reports of a recent surge in cases of a disease called canine parvovirus. With many headlines reporting this as a ‘mystery’ disease, a number of people have been left wondering what we know about the virus and what we can do to stop it.
What is CPV?
Canine parvovirus, or CPV, is a serious condition that can cause a wide variety of nasty symptoms including lethargy, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhoea, and weight loss.
How to prevent CPV?
One important thing to note is that CPV is not a new virus, not even in the UK.
Although we are currently in the middle of a particularly bad outbreak, the UK has experienced such outbreaks before both during the 1980s and the 1990s. As a result, vets have had time to develop good methods of prevention, the most important of which is a vaccine.
Vaccination against CPV is now pretty standard in the UK alongside CDV and CAV.
If your dog was not vaccinated as a puppy however, there’s no need to worry. Dogs older than 16 weeks can still be vaccinated with doses administered 3 times, with 3 to 4 weeks in between each dose.
Although evidence shows that it is less likely that an older dog will get CPV, it is not impossible so if you think your dog has not been vaccinated for the virus then please do contact your local vet to enquire further.
Can my dog get CPV from trips to the beach?
There have been some reports of increased cases of CPV in coastal areas and, although there are certainly other ways CPV can spread, the beach is one of the main culprits. The Safer Pet GPS tracker is an ideal accessory for tracking your dog walks on the beach and elsewhere. If your dog does get sick, you can warn other local dog owners of the recent areas you walked in with your dog, by looking at your tracked walks in the Safer Pet app.
CPV is an extremely versatile virus that can survive in organic matter–such as faeces–for up to a year. That is why no matter where you walk your dog, it’s important to be careful what you let them sniff. Beaches can be particularly bad for this however, because organic material can often get mixed up in the sand, so if you have a puppy and you're worried about CPV then it’s best to steer clear of the beach until they’re a little bit older.
What to do if your dog gets CPV?
As with many diseases, the most important factor in treating CPV is diagnosing it quickly. That means being aware of the symptoms and staying on the lookout for them.
If your dog does seem to be displaying any symptoms then contact your vet as soon as possible.
In terms of treatments, there are a number of options depending on your dog’s condition. Severely dehydrated or malnourished dogs often require a stay in hospital, during which they’ll be put on an IV to replace the fluid and nutrients lost through diarrhoea and vomiting.
In some cases, blood cell counts may be lowered as a result of bone marrow infection, so vets may recommend a blood transfusion.
Antibiotics are sometimes used to combat intestinal bacteria entering the bloodstream as a result of CPV.
In most cases, such treatments have proven to be effective in combatting the virus so long as it is diagnosed early enough.