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The Truth about Canine Parvovirus

What is Canine Parvovirus?
Canine parvovirus type 2 (CPV-2) is a highly contagious and serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the gastrointestinal tract of puppies and dogs.  It was first identified in 1978 and is seen worldwide.

What are some signs of parvovirus infection?
Dogs infected with CPV-2 that are ill are often said to have “parvo.” CPV-2 infection causes lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, vomiting and severe, often bloody diarrhea. Vomiting and diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration, and most deaths from parvovirus occur within 48 to 72 hours following the onset of clinical signs. If your puppy or dog shows any of these signs, you should contact the Molokai Humane Society (MoHS) immediately.

Community contributed by The Molokai Humane Society

How is parvovirus spread?
Parvo is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated environment or people.  It can be found on kennels, food and water bowls, collars and leashes and the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs. It is resistant to heat, cold, humidity and drying and can survive in the environment for long periods of time. Even tiny amounts of feces or vomit containing parvo may infect other dogs that come into contact with the area. The easiest way to clean an area that has been infected by parvo is to spray the area with diluted bleach. 

What dogs are at risk?
All dogs are at risk, but unvaccinated puppies less than 1 year of age are at an increased risk.  Dogs who do not receive their annual vaccine booster are also at increased risk.

How is canine parvovirus diagnosed and treated?
CPV-2 infection is often suspected based on the dog’s history, physical examination and laboratory tests. A fecal test at MoHS can confirm the diagnosis.
No specific drug is available that will kill the virus in infected dogs, and treatment is intended to support the dog’s body systems until the dog’s immune system can fight off the viral infection. Treatment should be started immediately and consists primarily of efforts to combat dehydration, control vomiting and diarrhea, and an antibiotic to prevent secondary infections. Sick dogs should be kept warm and receive good nursing care. When a dog develops parvo, treatment can be very expensive, and the dog may die despite aggressive treatment. MoHS offers billing agreements to those who cannot afford to pay the entire fee at the time of the visit. Early recognition and aggressive treatment are very important in successful outcomes.

Since CPV-2 is highly contagious, isolation of infected dogs is necessary to minimize spread of infection. Proper cleaning and disinfection of contaminated kennels and other areas where infected dogs are (or have been) housed is essential to control the spread of parvovirus. The virus is not easily killed, so consult MoHS for specific guidance on cleaning and disinfecting agents.

To protect their adult dogs, owners should be sure that their dog’s parvovirus vaccination is boosted every 1 to 3 years depending on dog’s lifestyle.
Erin or Kathy at MoHS would be happy to answer any questions you have regarding parvo and how to protect your dogs.  The time to contact MoHS is before your animal gets sick. Our business hours are Monday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday noon to 5 p.m., closed Wednesday, Thursday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday noon to 5 p.m., and the first Saturday of the month from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call 558-0000 to make an appointment to get your dog vaccinated.

Starting Oct.1 any puppy who receives their first two vaccinations from MoHS on the required schedule will receive the third vaccination for FREE! All three shots need to be administered at MoHS and each shot needs to be given within the 3 to 4 week window in order to qualify for the free vaccine.    

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