Parvoviral enteritis

Article – Parvoviral enteritis

Every year, as the weather warms up and the rains start we get an influx of Parvo Virus. Sadly this last year it does not seem to have gone away with cases throughout our very mild winter.  Canine Parvovirus is a highly infectious, potentially fatal disease which is primarily a gastro-intestinal disease. Parvo is commonly known as Katgriep. It is one of the five disease we regular vaccinate dogs against.


The virus is highly concentrated in the faeces of infected dogs. The virus will persist in the environment for months to years. Other dogs may sniff, lick or ingest stool or anything that the stool has touched and become infected. The virus is extremely resilient and may be passed to inanimate objects (fomites) eg shoes, clothes or any other object that has touched the surface where the virus was present.

Those most at risk are:

Puppies that haven’t been vaccinated adequately and unvaccinated young dogs as well as dogs that are immune-compromised. Particular susceptible breeds are all black and tan breeds; Rottweilers, dachshunds and Dobermans.

How can I prevent my pup contracting Parvo virus?

Vaccinate! Pups need a course of three vaccinations monthly from 6weeks of age. Vaccines are temperature sensitive and will become inactive in the cold chain is not maintained. For this reason, we do not recommend trusting the efficacy of a vaccine that was not administer by a vet. Adult dogs should receive a booster vaccination every year.     

If your pup was diagnosed with the disease, ensure vaccinations gets updated 4 weeks post treatment.

Pups that have not completed their course of vaccines should not be taken out to areas where other dogs visit such as parks. 

Clean up after your dogs. If one of your pets get parvovirus all messes must be cleaned by a 1:20 Household bleach solution or cleaner obtained from your veterinarian. Sunlight also helps to speed the disinfection process Remember the virus can be carried on contaminated items.

When should I worry?

Dogs will show mainly signs of gastro-intestinal upsets:

  • Diarrhea usually bloody
  • Vomition
  • Not Eating
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • In extreme cases the heart may be affected and these dogs will pass away suddenly

How will my vet confirm if it is Parvo virus?

Diagnosis of choice is done via a faecal sample. These tests are rapid, done in the veterinary clinic and are very reliable.

My dog is diagnosed. What now?

Parvovirus is a severe life-threatening condition and these animals require intensive in hospital treatment. Even with this a successful outcome is not always possible. This intensive hospital care is expensive and many cases that require prolonged nursing can be as much as R20,000

Home care is not recommended as many of the treatment requirements cannot be met.  

Treatment is supportive, to alleviate the symptoms, there is no medication that will treat parvovirus specifically. As well as medications, intravenous fluids and plasma transfusions naso-gastric feeding tubes often have to be placed to prevent malnutrition.

Prevention is always better than cure – vaccinate!! 

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