Canine parvovirus – commonly referred to as ‘parvo’ – is a serious virus transmitted from one dog to another. You may know it as ‘cat flu’ (or katgriep in Afrikaans), which is actually misleading: dogs don’t contract this disease from cats.

Q: What are the symptoms of canine parvovirus?

The reason canine parvovirus is so serious is that dogs often seem quite happy and healthy one day, and the next they are deathly ill. Symptoms manifest suddenly and sick animals – particularly puppies – can die within hours.

Dogs experiencing any of the following symptoms should be taken to the vet immediately:

  • Severe diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite/not eating
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Listlessness/Collapsing
  • Septicaemia

Your vet will test for parvo during the consultation to confirm the diagnosis.

Q: How will my dog be treated for parvo?

If your dog tests positive for the virus, it’s likely that your vet will recommend hospitalisation so that s/he can be placed on a drip, and an intensive round of treatment can begin. This is the most effective way to treat the disease.

Your pet will be kept in isolation due to the highly contagious nature of the disease, and medication will be administered intravenously.

Keep in mind that hospitalisation for canine parvovirus can be anything from one to two weeks. It’s a lengthy illness to treat, and some dogs don’t survive it despite their vets’ best efforts.

Q: Can I prevent canine parvovirus in my dog?

As we know, prevention is always better than cure. Fortunately, there is a parvo vaccination available. Typically, you’d vaccinate your pup at six weeks, nine weeks and 12 weeks at the minimum.

When you collect your new puppy from the breeder, a pet shop or a shelter, it’s essential to find out how old s/he is, which vaccinations s/he has had, and when the next vaccinations are due

Q. Can my dog get parvo even if s/he has been vaccinated against it?

In rare cases, yes. Some dogs’ immune systems respond differently to the vaccine and they may still be susceptible to parvo.

Generally speaking, dogs that have had at least three parvo vaccinations should not contract the disease. Also, those who have been vaccinated against it and still contract it are normally less seriously affected, and recover faster.

Any other tips for keeping my pup healthy?

Always make sure your furry friend is up to date on all their vaccinations, as this will give them the best possible protection against illnesses. You can also read more of our helpful blog posts about canine health and wellness provided by a vet. Happy pet-rearing

Disclaimer: Always consult your vet for professional advice. The Zuki.co.za blog is provided as an educational tool and should not be used to diagnose illness or treat an animal.

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