What Are the Warning Signs of Parvo?
Parvo is one of the most feared diseases in dogs, and for good reason. Not only is it highly contagious and caused by an extremely resilient virus but it also causes gastrointestinal effects that can take a dog’s life within days.
However, Parvo doesn’t have to be a death sentence. With immediate veterinary attention and supportive treatment, adult dogs and puppies are usually able to make a complete recovery in a span of one week.
To make sure that your dog overcomes Parvo (if they ever contract it), it’s important that you’re familiar with the warning signs that go along with it. If you notice your dog exhibiting one of the following, then it’s probably time to see the vet!
Loss of Appetite
One of the first signs that appear in dogs that contract Parvo is loss of appetite. You’ll notice that your once incredibly food-motivated pup has suddenly become less enthusiastic about their meals.
This is because during the early stages of Parvo infection, the virus spreads throughout the body and starts damaging several organs, especially the lining of intestines. In response to the invasion, the immune system also triggers the body’s first line of defense, causing fever, constant tiredness, and of course, loss of appetite.
Most dogs that contract Parvo have trouble keeping food down—anything and everything that they eat or drink often comes right back out. As they continue to refuse food, their stomachs become empty and they start vomiting up bile, which appears as a thick, foamy, yellow-brownish fluid; or blood, which may come out as coffee-colored vomit.
If your dog isn’t eating, bring them to the vet immediately. They may need a feeding tube and IV fluids to keep them from becoming malnourished and dehydrated.
Since Parvo damages the lining of the intestines, the intestinal tract loses the ability to absorb water and nutrients. This causes fluids, as well as undigested food particles, to simply flow out of the body in the form of loose stool or diarrhea—increasing the odds of dehydration. But that’s not all. Parvo may also injure the blood vessels and cause blood to leak into the stool, causing bloody diarrhea in some dogs.
If your pup has diarrhea, you can prevent dehydration by supplying them with electrolytes, whether in the form of drinks or intravenously at the animal clinic.
Just like humans, sick dogs have lower energy levels than normal. This happens as a result of the body constantly working overtime to try and overcome the disease. That’s why it’s very important for Parvo-infected dogs to receive adequate nutrition, electrolytes, and fluids throughout the recovery period. They help keep the immune system strong and healthy enough to make it possible for dogs to heal.
Loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea—all of these take a toll on infected dogs and cause them to lose weight. However, as long as they receive sufficient nutrition and remain under the care of veterinary professionals, they’ll be okay. Most dogs easily gain the weight back once they’ve recovered.
To help dog owners nurse their dogs back to health at home, veterinarians normally give them instructions on how to properly administer of a few medications, including antibiotics and anti-nausea medication. They may also teach dog owners how to gradually re-introduce solid food and brief them on what their pup can and can’t eat.
All these—early detection, prompt veterinary treatment, and proper at home care—make it possible for infected dogs win the battle against Parvo.