Imagine this: a child given a puppy as a gift on Christmas day, with pedigree papers but incomplete vaccination records. At first, the family won’t know what to do or whom to go to for consultations. They do not understand the medical records of the canine they just bought at a hefty price. Apparently, the documents are incomplete, haphazardly procured from “veterinary supplies”, which irresponsible breeders administer themselves. In these circumstances, they often hear about rabies, but rarely about other viral diseases that may be fatal to dogs.

The child gets to enjoy running around with a very happy puppy but the next day, the pup suddenly looks depressed, does not eat as much, and worse, vomits up frothy saliva, rightfully causing worry among family members.

After a couple of days, the signs worsen to lethargy, worsening loss of appetite, and diarrhea that has a not-so-pleasant smell and spots of blood.

Take note

Every credible veterinary medical textbook, journal, or online article never claims a cure. Instead, they detail only supportive therapy to correct fluid and acid-base imbalances, alongside other intravenous treatments. Some suggest oral immunecomplex therapies that are supposed to bind the virus and prevent further damage to the lining of the small intestines, while others advocate intravenous Interferon therapy. Drugs that suppress vomiting, among many others, need not be given.

Stomachaches and heartbreaks

Animal patients I diagnosed with Canine Parvoviral Enteritis (CPV) are often in a curled position, and a touch to the belly can be painful. A definitive diagnosis is already available through test kits that account for the presence of the virus, not to mention the coincidental finding of hookworms, with each test kit differing only in the principle employed. Picture a pregnancy test but with the objective of demonstrating the presence of a virus instead of a pregnancy hormone.

The earlier that dogs are diagnosed, the higher the chances for them to recover.

CPV is transmitted through feces that can contaminate food or water. The virus particles are everywhere, making it easily transmissible.

Sadly, there is still no cure for CPV. However, you may ask your trusted veterinarian about Distemper-Parvo (core vaccine) shots or Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus (DHLPPI) vaccines, popularly known as 5-in-1, which can protect your animal companion from these fatal but preventable infections.

Parvovirus history

Parvovirus was first recognized in 1977 or 1978. Although it is closely related to a cat virus called Feline Panleukopenia virus (FPV), there is still much discussion about how the mutation that transformed it into an entirely new virus came to be.

The two mentioned viruses are 98 percent identical, differing only in two amino acids in the viral outer protein covering. The virus is measured in units as small as nanometers, hence the Latin name parvus that means small.

This virus may contaminate all places, like dog boarding houses, kennels, shelters, pet shop, cages, footwear, or even table surfaces. Please be guided that there is no safe place for unvaccinated puppies or any pet animals with incomplete vaccinations.

Its incidence is worldwide in domestic dogs and other members of the dog family. This virus is so robust that it persists in a place for a very long time, unless disinfected with a solution of dilute bleach or an accelerated hydrogen peroxide disinfectant. These can also be used as foot baths to disinfect footwear.

Not all parvovirus infections result in hemorrhagic enteritis. Sometimes, it causes sudden death due to cardiorespiratory failure, wherein the virus damages heart cells.

Before things go wrong, visit a veterinarian. Your puppies need to be vaccinated properly to become immune to these kinds of viruses and to live a happy and longer life.

Vaccination guidelines

When I was President of the Philippine Animal Hospital, we determined which vaccines were core and non-core. We adopted the stance of the American Veterinary Medical Association regarding the kinds of vaccines.

As a general rule, deworming must commence two weeks from birth, henceforth to be done every two weeks until a puppy reaches 16 weeks. Vaccination with Distemper-Parvo starts at one-and-a-half months, preferably after deworming, and every two weeks until reaching 16 weeks of age.

Dr. Emmanuel Macapagal is the 2000-2001 president of the Philippine Animal Hospital Association, Inc.

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s June 2019 issue.

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