Carroll County Animal Hospital


Case of the Month: July 2009

Ellie, a 13 week old female Great Pyranese, presented to our office for not eating, vomiting, and diarrhea. This is a common presentation for a sick puppy and one that is all to often the result of not vaccinating pets properly. After an initial physical examination, which revealed only a slightly tender abdomen, a fecal examination and a parvo viral test were ordered. The fecal test was negative for intestinal parasites but the parvo test was positive for the virus. Thus, a diagnosis of parvo viral enteritis was made.

Canine parvo virus (CPV) has two primary types: type 1 and type 2. Type 2 CPV is the highly contagious often fatal form most commonly seen. Traditionally, Type 2 CPV has had two strains due to genetic mutation CPV 2a and CPV 2b, with CPV 2 b being the most common in the U.S. CPV 2 is a hardy virus that is able to live in the environment for over 5 months.

Transmission of canine parvo virus (CPV) occurs mainly through oral contact with infected fecal matter. This fecal matter can be spread through humans, insects, rodents, toys, grooming equipment, or any other material that is contaminated with infected fecal material. After the dogs mouth comes into contact with the infected feces the incubation period before the animal begins to show clinical symptoms is usually between 7 to 14 days.

After being infected with the virus and the virus incubating for 7-14 days, the most common clinical signs that will be reported are vomiting and diarrhea with or without blood. The vomiting is usually the first symptom followed by diarrhea. These symptoms can present extremely rapidly which will result in dehydration if left untreated.

Treatment in canine parvo virus has one main goal, prevent added loss of fluid. Antibiotics and medicine to control vomiting and diarrhea are also used, but none is more important to the success than fluid therapy. Medical treatment, including fluid therapy, antibiotics, and medicine to control vomiting and diarrhea, is usually continued until the vomiting and diarrhea stops. After the vomiting and diarrhea stops, small amounts of water is introduced and if no vomiting over 24 hours then a highly digestible food is slowly introduced. While canine parvo virus is an extremely unpredictable disease, pups that normally survive the first 3-4 days of treatment usually make a complete recovery.

Canine parvo virus is a deadly virus that kills thousands of puppies each year. The best defense that veterinarians have at this point is to vaccinate against the virus. Vaccinations should be given at 6 weeks, 9 weeks, and 12 weeks. In certain extremely sensitive breeds like Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and American Staffordshire terriers, vaccines should be given until 15 weeks old.

Ellie was treated at Carroll County Animal Hospital for 4 days with fluid therapy, antibiotics, and anti-vomiting medications. She responded well to treatment for the secondary effects of the virus and was discharge after she held down food and water. She has since been rechecked and has no further effects from the virus. Ellie was boostered for other viruses 1 week after her discharge.

Any further questions about this disease or other inquiries can be directed to: Dr. Jason Harden at 770-832-2475.