When you buy a new puppy, it's extremely important that you ask your vet to vaccinate him against parvovirus enteritis (PVE) before you introduce him to other dogs or walk him where other dogs have been. But what is PVE, why is vaccination necessary and how what can your vet do to treat your puppy if he contracts PVE? Read on to find out more.
What is PVE?
The first thing to note about PVE is that it is very often fatal, especially in puppies. Puppies from large breeding farms where vaccinations are not given are particularly at risk because of the highly contagious nature of the disease and the ease of transmission from one animal to another.
PVE is spread through direct contact with infected animals or matter such as dog faeces. This is why your puppy must be protected by vaccination before exposure to other dogs. The virus can also be transmitted on your hands, shoes and clothing.
The typical signs of PVE include the following:
- rapid weight loss
- depression and general malaise
- bloody diarrhoea
If your puppy is unvaccinated and shows any of these signs, you must seek vet emergency attention.
How can my vet treat PVE?
Dogs infected with parvovirus can be treated through intensive nursing and treatment in a veterinary hospital, but the prognosis is often poor.
Your puppy will be put on an intravenous drip to correct dehydration, treat shock, and balance his electrolytes. Although antibiotics are not effective against the virus itself, your vet will use them to help prevent the development of secondary infections. Anti-sickness medication will be given, together with painkillers and drugs to correct diarrhoea Your puppy may require blood or plasma transfusions in order to replace lost cells and proteins that have been stripped away by frequent attacks of diarrhoea. It's likely that your puppy will be fed through a tube directly into his stomach until he can take in food himself normally again.
If your puppy does recover from parvovirus, he may take a long time to get over it and will require a specialist diet and ongoing drug therapy until his body has completely recovered. Before you take him home, you will need to destroy any bedding and toys that were exposed to the virus and disinfect feeding and water bowls.
Parvovirus enteritis is a highly dangerous and often fatal disease that affects unvaccinated dogs of all ages, although young puppies are especially vulnerable. Before you introduce your puppy to other dogs or walk him in the park, make sure he has been fully vaccinated against PVE and other contagious, dangerous canine diseases. Your veterinary clinic will be able to give you more advice on a full preventative vaccination programme for your new puppy.