Posts Tagged ‘intestinal illness’

If you have a dog, you’ve probably heard of the dreaded Parvovirus, but don’t know much about it. Let me give you the run-down.

What is it?  “Parvo” is a highly contagious viral disease of dogs that attacks the intestines, heart, and white blood cells.

How is Parvovirus spread?  Parvo is spread through direct contact with other dogs and dog feces. However, other animals and people can carry the virus on themselves (through contact with feces) and transmit it to dogs.

What are the signs of Parvovirus? 

  • Bloody diarrhea, often with a distinctive foul odor
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Dehydration

Which dogs are most at risk?

  • Unvaccinated dogs
  • Puppies between weaning and 6 months old
  • Certain breeds, such as Rottweilers, Dobermans, English Springer Spaniels, pit bull terriers, and black Labrador retrievers
  • Dogs living in high-density housing, such as boarding or breeding kennels, animal shelters, and pet stores
  • Dogs that visit dog parks

What is the the treatment?  After a special fecal test is used to confirm a positive diagnosis of Parvo, the pet will be hospitalized in an isolation ward (to protect other patients from exposure.) Since viruses cannot be killed through the use of antibiotics, the pet will receive supportive therapy, aimed at reducing the incidents of vomiting and diarrhea, and replenishing fluids and nutrients.

In many cases, pups with Parvo also have parasites (such as Roundworms or Hookworms), which can worsen the pet’s condition. In those cases, treatment will include worming.

Antibiotics may also be given to prevent the onset of opportunistic bacterial infections.

What are the odds of survival?  Dogs diagnosed with Parvo have the best chance of survival with immediate and intensive care. Due to the life-threatening nature of the disease, it cannot be adequately treated in a home environment.

Dogs that survive the first 3 to 4 days of illness have a good chance of recovery.

Pups less than 4 months old are at highest risk for severe illness. Less common these days is sudden death due to inflammation of the heart (myocarditis.)

It is important to note that even with appropriate treatment, Parvovirus can cause death, especially in young dogs. No veterinarian can guarantee a positive outcome.

Dogs that recover from a bout of Parvo may have permanent damage to their intestines and possibly the heart.

How can I protect my dog from Parvovirus?  Make sure your pet receives its annual Parvo vaccine (often contained within the distemper-combo shot.)

Because not every pet will develop the proper immunity to disease after vaccination, be cautious about letting your dog around other pets. 

Do not let your dog sniff or come in contact with other dogs’ droppings, and always dispose of your pet’s waste.

Pay attention to bulletins warning about Parvo outbreaks in city dog parks.

If possible, keep dogs under 3 months of age away from other dogs altogether.

What if my dog has been infected already?  Assuming your pet is in treatment at a hospital or has unfortunately passed away, now is the time to disinfect the home environment. 

Parvovirus can live outside the host animal for many months. In fact, Dr. Miele typically recommends to refrain from bringing new animals into the house for a period of at least 6 months.

To disinfect the home, mix 1 part bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) to 30 parts water and thoroughly clean the areas where the pet lived. Be aware that the bleach solution may alter or damage certain materials.

Discard food and water bowls, toys, collars and leashes. 

If the pet is deceased, arrange for cremation. Do not bury the pet in your yard.

Questions? Call 757-583-2619.

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Resources for this article:

What you should know about Canine Parvovirus Infection, an AVMA publication.

The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult, Canine and Feline, Larry P. Tilley, DVM and Francis W. K. Smith, Jr., DVM

Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice, Stephen J. Birchard, DVM and Robert J. Sherding, DVM

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This article was originally posted on August 8, 2012.

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Today I get to share with you something we (fortunately) don’t see very often on fecal exams – Whipworm eggs. Those are the pink football-shaped objects in the photo below.

A rare sight in Norfolk: evidence of Whipworm infestation. Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic. [Click to enlarge]

INTESTINAL ILLNESS

What’s so awful about Whipworms?
An infection can lead to diarrhea (sometimes with blood), weight loss, abdominal pain, dehydration and anemia. 

Whipworms (so named for their whip-like appearance as adults: thin at the front end and fatter at the rear) are not the most common intestinal parasite that we find in dogs, but it is a nasty little bug if contracted. Whipworms are rarely seen in cats.

Whipworm eggs are deposited in the soil when an infected animal defecates. When the same or another animal ingests the contaminated soil (this can happen by mouthing a toy left on the ground or licking the paws after playing outside), the infection begins again.

LIFE CYCLE

Once swallowed, the eggs hatch out and the larvae spend about 10 days in the small intestines before moving on to the large intestines. Then the larvae spend the next two to three months maturing to adulthood.

Adult whipworms use their narrow heads to pierce your pet’s intestinal walls and hang on, then rob your pet of its blood and nutrients. By the 70th day after the initial Whipworm eggs were swallowed, the adult Whips are ready to produce new eggs.

The adult female Whipworm can lay up to 2000 eggs per day. That is actually a small number, compared to a Roundworm that can lay 80,000 eggs per day. Because Whipworms lay a relatively few number of eggs and do not constantly reproduce, they can be difficult to detect. Multiple stool sample exams may be necessary. 

PREVENTION AND CONTROL

Whipworm eggs are hardy and difficult to eradicate in the yard, so recurrent infections are likely.
O
nce diagnosed, a Whipworm infection can be treated with a course of medication, such as Panacur.
Then, because of the high likelihood of recurrence, affected dogs and their canine housemates should receive a monthly heartworm/intestinal worm preventative rated to control Whips. Our go-to choice has been Sentinel, but it is not currently available. Until Sentinel is returned to the marketplace, we recommend Trifexis.

LOW ZOONOTIC POTENTIAL

The most common type of Whipworms found in dogs is Trichuris vulpis. Though they tend to be host-specific, there are a few reported cases of people contracting Trichuris vulpis, as well. To be on the safe side, wear disposable gloves when handling soil or pet waste and wash your hands well afterward.

See our previous entries in our ‘Scope series:

Roundworms

Hookworms

Tapeworms

Coccidiae

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