What is parvoviral enteritis?
Canine parvoviral enteritis is a disease caused by the highly contagious canine parvovirus that affects the gastrointestinal tract of young, unvaccinated dogs. It is associated with low survival rates in untreated dogs. There are three variants of the canine parvovirus, which is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality globally among dogs. Certain breeds such as Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, American Pitbull Terriers, English Springer Spaniels and German Shepherd Dogs are at very high risk.
How do puppies get parvoviral enteritis?
Antibodies to parvoviral enteritis are transferred from the mother dog to her puppies through colostrum. This protects them from the disease for the first few weeks. However, as these maternally acquired antibodies decrease, the susceptibility to the disease increases, particularly due to overcrowding, malnutrition, intestinal parasites and other infections. The virus is transmitted through direct oral and nasal contact with virus-containing faeces or indirectly through virus-contaminated objects in the vicinity of the puppies. The virus is considered highly contagious as it can start spreading within 4-5 days of the puppy developing the infection, all the way up to 10 days post clinical recovery from the disease.
What are the symptoms of parvovirus in puppies?
Symptoms of parvoviral enteritis in dogs start to develop within 5-7 days after exposure to the virus. The initial signs are nonspecific or are related to enteritis, such as anorexia, lethargy, weakness, and depression. This slowly progresses to foul-smelling diarrhoea, which may range from mucous-coated or bloody diarrhoea along with vomiting, dehydration and fever. Dogs and puppies with other diseases at the time of diagnosis, such as heart failure or neurological signs have a poor prognosis.
How is parvoviral enteritis diagnosed in dogs?
Generally suspected based on the clinical signs, there are PCR and ELISA tests which can be conducted for confirmation. Additionally, blood tests can provide indications due to changes in the blood value parameters.
How is parvoviral enteritis treated in dogs?
Treatment of parvoviral enteritis is mainly symptomatic and supportive in nature, with fluid and electrolytes provided intravenously, along with medication to reduce vomiting, diarrhoea, prevent secondary bacterial infections and provide other nutritional support.