CBD can work wonders for dogs in oils or dog treats. CBD can provide the same benefits for dogs as medical marijuana for humans who experience seizures, extreme pain, anxiety, and cancer. CBD is not what you may traditionally view as weed. CBD is not psychoactive, unlike its more famous counterpart, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). CBD is one of over 80 different chemical compounds called “cannabinoids” derived from the marijuana plant. Instead, CBD shares important metabolic pathways with a class of drugs called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen and Rimadyl. These pathways control many processes in the body, from inflammatory responses to blood clotting. Never give dogs straight marijuana or any product containing THC, the primary psychoactive component of marijuana. However, CBD-based products can substantially improve your dog’s quality of life when used in conjunction with other therapies.
CBD can help with many ailments your dog may experience such as pain management, arthritis, anxiety, seizures, and even cancer. Because CBD shares the same metabolic pathways as anti-inflammatory drugs, it can help with inflammatory conditions. Anything that ends in “-itis” is an inflammatory condition. This includes osteoarthritis (arthritis for short). 25% of dogs will be diagnosed with arthritis in their lifetime. By some estimates, as many as 60% of dogs exhibit some degree of the disease. CBD can provide relief for dogs that may be experiencing pain.
With any treatment, there are potential risks. Overall, CBD itself seems to be incredibly safe for both dogs and cats. However, it has been found that when given at the recommended doses, CBD does cause an elevation in an important liver value on bloodwork called alkaline phosphatase (ALP). It is too early in its research to see if the elevation in this liver value has any medical significance. It could signify that CBD causes irritation or damage to the liver. Alternatively, it could be an artificial finding in which the drug interferes with the way the lab measures the liver value. It is simply too early to know for sure. There are anecdotal reports of dogs becoming somewhat sleepy or sedate if they receive a large dose of CBD, but these effects resolve independently with time. Moreover, CBD doesn’t appear to have any drug interactions when given to a dog on an anti-inflammatory drug like Rimadyl. However, there is a theoretical risk of drug interaction, as with any other medication, so it is essential to consult with your veterinarian before treating your dog with CBD.
CBD can be administered in topical treatments; however, it is most often administered orally to dogs. The correct dosage is imperative. Studies on using CBD for dogs with arthritis or seizures generally use a dose between 2-8 mg/kg, with most papers erring on the lower side of that estimate. This is about 1-2 milligrams per pound of body weight, twice daily. This dosage has been found to be safe and effective for use with arthritis and seizures. Additional research is needed to evaluate the differences in CBD dosages for other conditions.
CBD can provide benefits for your dog that may be experiencing pain or anxiety. However, the correct dosage is imperative. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at Olsen Veterinary Clinic at 618-656-5868.
For this next breed spotlight, I will be introducing you to the Irish wolfhound, likely for the first time. This dog is calm, dignified, and the tallest breed of dog (sorry Great Danes). Early ancestors of Irish wolfhounds were fearless, big-game hunters who could dispatch a wolf in single combat. Today, they are the most serene and agreeable of companions.
The amiable Irish Wolfhound is an immense and muscular hound. They are built along classic Greyhound lines, capable of great speeds at a gallop. A male might stand nearly three feet at the shoulder and can weigh up to 180 pounds. Females will run smaller but are still a very large dog. They have a rough and hard coat that can come in many colors. They can be white, gray, brindle, red, black, and fawn. Irish wolfhounds are way too serene to be fierce guard dogs, but the mere sight of the size of these dogs are enough to deter intruders. Irish wolfhounds are characteristically patient with kids, but their size does require supervision when they are around small children.
The history of this wolfhound goes back to the breeding of indigenous large dogs of Britain to the Middle Eastern coursing hounds that were bartered around the known world in the earliest days of international trade. By the time the Roman Empire had gained a toehold in the British Isles, the giant hounds of Ireland were already long established. In the year 391, the Roman consul received a gift of seven of these hounds that “all Rome viewed with wonder”. These majestic hunters, whose motto was “gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked”, were used on such quarry as the now-extinct Irish elk, a massive, ferocious beast said to stand six feet at the shoulder. In 15th-century Ireland, wolves were overrunning the countryside. The Irish hounds, already renowned big-game hunters, began to specialize on wolves. By the late 1700s, when wolves and other big-game animals of Ireland were hunted to extinctions, Irish wolfhounds lost their job and nearly went extinct themselves. This is a case of a breed doing its job too well for its own good. In 1862, British army captain George Augustus Graham began scouring the country for remaining specimens of Ireland’s national hound. Graham made it his life’s work to protect, standardize, and promote the breed. Today, his name is still spoken with reverence wherever Irish wolfhound fanciers gather.
The coats of Irish wolfhounds have two layers; the outer being harsh and wiry with the under being very soft. They shed throughout the year, but not in an excessive amount. Unlike many other double-coated breeds, Irish wolfhounds don’t “blow out” their coats during an annual or semi-annual shedding season. Irish wolfhounds retain a strong instinct to hunt and chase prey, so they should only be allowed off the leash in areas that are securely fenced. As adults, Irish wolfhounds can become couch potatoes if allowed to, but regular exercise like long walks and play sessions help keep them physically and mentally healthy. A home with a large, fenced area is necessary to provide the environment needed for this breed to thrive. The breed can also exercise mind and body by participating in canine sports like tracking, agility, and lure coursing.
These gentle giants are sure are a breed with a rich history. Their ancestors’ traits reveal themselves with their passion for hunting and need for mental and physical exercise. Generally, these dogs make excellent companions for anyone with enough land to satisfy their need to run. With any questions, please feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at 618-656-5868.
Canine influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that affects dogs and cats. Influenza viruses are able to quickly change and give rise to new strains that can infect different species. Of the two strains identified in the US, both of them can be traced to influenza strains known to infect species other than dogs. At some point, these viruses acquired the ability to infect dogs and be transmitted from dog to dog. Virtually all dogs exposed to canine influenza become infected, with approximately 80% developing clinical signs of disease. The other 20% of infected dogs that do not exhibit clinical signs of the disease can still shed the virus and spread the infection.
Canine influenza is transmitted through droplets or aerosols containing respiratory secretions from coughing, barking, and sneezing. Dogs in close contact with infected dogs in places like kennels, groomers, day care facilities, and shelters are at an increased risk of infection. Canine influenza can be spread indirectly through objects like kennels, food and water bowls, collars, and leashes or people who have been in contact with an infected dog to avoid exposing other dogs to the virus. Due to this, people in contact with an infected dog should wash their hands and clean their clothing to avoid spreading the virus. The virus can stay alive and able to infect on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours. It is important to implement cleaning and disinfection procedures to reduce the risk of disease transmission.
The majority of infected dogs exhibit the mild form of canine influenza. The most common clinical sign is a cough that persists for 10-21 days despite treatment with antibiotics and cough suppressants. Affected dogs may have a soft, moist cough, or a dry cough similar to that induced by kennel cough. Nasal and/or ocular discharge, sneezing, lethargy, and anorexia may also be observed. Many dogs developed a purulent nasal discharge and fever. Some dogs are more severely affected and exhibit clinical signs of pneumonia, such as a high-grade fever and increased respiratory rate and effort.
Canine influenza cannot be diagnosed solely by clinical symptoms like coughing, sneezing, and nasal discharge because these signs also present with other canine respiratory illnesses. Tests must be done to properly identify strains of canine influenza virus. Contact Dr. Olsen to set up a test if you think that your dog may be infected.
Treatment for canine influenza is largely supportive. Good nutrition helps dogs mount an effective immune response. Most dogs recover from canine influenza within two to three weeks. Secondary bacterial infections, pneumonia, dehydration, or other health factors may require additional diagnostics and treatments.
While canine influenza is a serious threat, vaccines are available against both strands of canine influenza found in the US. Vaccination can reduce the risk of a dog contracting canine influenza and while it may not all together prevent an infection; it may reduce the severity and duration of illness. As always, feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at 618-656-5868 with any questions or to set up an appointment!
Doggy daycare, like regular daycare, can be a cesspool of different germs and infections. If your dog comes home from daycare with a strange cough, your dog might have contracted kennel cough. Kennel cough can be caused by a variety of different viruses and bacteria. Kennel cough is caused by a dog inhaling bacteria or viruses into their upper respiratory tract. Symptoms can be worsened if their lungs are already overworked by cold air, cigarette smoke, stress, or crowded quarters with poor ventilation.
The respiratory tract is usually lined with mucus which helps trap particles that might cause infections which is why kennel cough is often caused by multiple different pathogens – one weakens the mucus in the lungs allowing the other to take root and cause infection. Kennel cough is extremely contagious and spreads around the environment where other dogs inhale the pathogen and become sick. Kennel cough is difficult to control since it is airborne. The main symptom of kennel cough is a cough that sounds like a goose honk. Some dogs will only experience coughing with kennel cough while others may have other symptoms such as sneezing, a runny nose, or eye discharge.
Severe symptoms may include retching, lethargy, and fever. Usually kennel cough lasts for three to four weeks with the worst symptoms in the first five days and dwindling over time. Young puppies and older dogs with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to kennel cough and can take up to six weeks to recover. Stress and environmental factors like temperature, dry climate, and airborne irritants like smoke can increase the severity of prevalent symptoms.
Vaccines for kennel cough are extremely important as they can reduce the odds of getting it or reduce the symptoms. While the vaccine is not 100% effective, it can greatly reduce the odds of your dog contracting the illness if they is frequently in conditions that tend to spread the disease, such as daycare. The vaccine is typically offered in oral, intranasal, and injected forms. The biggest mistake believed by some is that kennel cough is a minor issue that doesn’t call for a trip to the vet. While it may seem like a minor problem, kennel cough can lead to pneumonia or death, especially in dogs that already have weakened immune system.
It’s better to be safe than sorry and take your dog to the vet at the first signs of kennel cough, rather than waiting for the issue to progress. Your vet will be able to tell you how severe of a treatment needed to help your pets kennel cough. A mild cough may only need rest and a cough suppressant while severe kennel cough may require antibiotics or supportive care. Coughing is not only indicative of kennel cough; it may also indicate major health issues such as a collapsing trachea, canine distemper, canine influenza, bronchitis, asthma, or even heart disease. It is always best to err on the side of caution and bring your dog to the vet at any sign of coughing.
There are several home remedies that may help soothe your pet’s symptoms and reduce discomfort. Create a humid environment by using a humidifier or turning on a hot shower and putting your dog in the bathroom with the steam. Some dog owners have found that a small amount of honey daily can help a dog’s throat. Honey has natural antimicrobial and anti fungal agents that can reduce inflammation and soothe sore throats. Thus, reducing coughing while helping your pup fight off infection. Simply give your dog a spoonful of raw honey a few times a day. As always, be sure to check with your vet before introducing human food into your dog’s diet. Another option to consider is CBD oil. It is natural found in hemp plants and highly regarded for its health benefits. The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD oil can ease pain and swelling, restoring comfort.
Kennel cough is not a common cold. It is best to visit your veterinarian right away to learn of the best treatment path. As always, feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at 618-656-5868 with any questions or to set up an appointment.
The month of February is reserved to spotlight a dog breed. Most of the time, I try to shed some light on a breed that isn’t very popular. Well this month is no exception as I am featuring a dog that is not very popular, unique in its appearance, rich in history and really considers its only job as being a companion for its owner. That breed is the Lowchen, which is also known as the “Little Lion Dog”.
The Lowchen is a small breed that generally stands about a foot tall but has an enormous heart. The coat is traditionally kept in a “lion clip” in which most of the hind quarters and tail are clipped down close to the skin. The overall effect is that of a mini lion with a full mane and plumed tail. This breed coat comes in many colors and color combinations.
The breed has a long and somewhat controversial history. We know from works of art depicting images of small dogs in a very distinctive lion trim from the breed dated to the 16thcentury. The breed has been depicted throughout the centuries in paintings, drawings and tapestries from around the world.
The controversy arises as to the exact origin of the breed. There are several theories of debate with one thinking that the breed originated in Northern Europe which is now known as Germany, France and Belgium. Because it came from this area, the Lowchen is thought to be tied to the breeds that were the forerunner to the modern day poodle. The stories go that they were a favorite companion for the ladies of the castles and they would lay close to their owners at night to keep them warm like a water bottle, as well as attract the fleas away from the owner.
Another theory is that the Lowchen originated in the Mediterranean region and are directly related to the Bichon breeds. Also there are some theories that the breed might have originated in Russia or Tibet.
The Lowchen has been a resident of all households through the ages, from castles to farmyards and cottages. Aside from the function of being a companion, they possibly were varmint hunters and fierce little guards.
There is a story from the late 1700’s about a Lowchen whose name was Bijou. As the story goes, Bijou was so upset that his owner was leaving him behind, he jumped out of a castle window into the Lahn River that was 60 feet below. One ending has him surviving and was rewarded by riding to the hunt in the owner’s saddle, the other that the jump ended in disaster. Whichever the outcome, his portrait from 1787 still hangs in the Baronesses’ bedroom in Wellburg Castle.
Little has been written about this breeds early years. The first record of a breeder and fancier was Dr. Walthier in Germany in the 1800’s. The breed standard was written in the 1800’s and in 1897, a Madame Madelaine Bennert purchased her first Lowchen. She is the one who would be recognized for her efforts in saving the disappearing breed.
In 1999, the Lowchen was admitted into the AKC in the Non-Sporting group. The Lowchen is a small breed that weighs about 15 pounds and has a life expectancy or about 13-15 years. It is a very loving dog whose sole purpose is giving love and hoping to get loved in return. It might see a squirrel, chase it and catch it, but it would not know what to do with it if it did catch it. It will bark at strangers, but then when they enter, the Lowchen will lick them to death. The Lowchen’s favorite spot to be is on the couch watching out the window.
Don’t mistake the breeds sweetness, because it is a true lion that will stand up to any German Shepherd and bark down a Great Dane. They are active, smart, and love children. They can make very good agility dogs because they are trainable, resourceful and very adaptable. Since they like to bark, it is recommended that they undergo some obedience training. Due to their haircoat it is advisable that they be brushed regularly and see an experienced groomer monthly. Another plus with this breed is that they are hypoallergenic.
There are very few health problems with this breed. But they may suffer from patellar luxations, heart issues and some eye issues.
Here at the Olsen Veterinary Clinic, we love to see all breeds. So if you have a Lowchen, or a mixed breed, gives us a call at (618)-656-5868 and we will be happy to assist you.
Dogs are considered “man’s best friend.” But what do you get when you don’t have room or time for a dog? How about a cat that thinks it’s a dog? The breed of cat that I am spotlighting this month has been described as that. It is called the Pixie-Bob.
The Pixie-Bob breed is thought to be the result of the natural mating between a bobcat and a domestic shorthair, but they may also have sprung from a natural genetic mutation that gave them their wild look and bobbed tail. It is one of those mysteries that no one will ever know for sure. This breed was first developed in the Pacific Northwest in the mid 1980’s by a woman that acquired a male kitten with distinctive characteristics like a spotted coat, a short tail and more than usual numbers of toes. A year later, she acquired another male cat with a short tail and with the help of a neighbor’s female cat, produced a litter of kittens. One, a female, had a muted spotted pattern and the woman kept her—naming her Pixie. The breeder wanted more cats like Pixie, and soon the breed was born. They were recognized as an actual breed by the American Cat Fanciers Association in 2005.
Pixie-Bobs are described as “big, lively and outgoing.” The breeds’ devotion to its family belies its somewhat wild look. They tend to be a large cat where the male and female can weigh up to 12 and 25 pounds respectively. They are brawny and muscular which is why some breeders believe that the Coastal Red Bobcat had to be the founding father. Their ears tend to be tufted and resemble that of a bobcat by having lynx tips on the ears. Pixie-Bobs have a thick wooly coat like a bobcat and can be either long or short haired. They normally have a striped coat pattern and come in a variety of colors, but most are tawny, light gray, or reddish. Their eye color can be from golden brown to gooseberry green. A Pixie-Bob’s tail is a minimum of 2 inches by can be as long as to their hock. Their facial hair grows downward giving them the appearance of a man’s muttonchop sideburns. One other unique feature that some Pixie-Bobs have are that some are polydactyl. This means that they have more than the usual number of digits on its paws. Polydactyl cats are considered lucky, so if you own a Pixie-Bob, luck may be on your side.
Pixie-Bobs are inquisitive and like to interact with families, so they are true companions and members of the family because of their relaxed attitude. They communicate with their families with a pleasant voice and standard meows and purrs. They are active and enjoy being friends. They enjoy interaction with families and have been described by some as “the cat that thinks it is a dog.” Pixie-Bobs love going on car rides and walks just like dogs. They also get along well with dogs and other pets. Because they tend to be a medium to long haired breed, they do require a weekly brushing to prevent mattes from forming and regular nail trims.
If you have a Pixie-Bob cat or even a good ol’ domestic shorthair, the Olsen Veterinary Clinic tries to meet the expectations for all of your pet’s needs. If you have any questions or issues please do not hesitate to call us at (618)-656-5868.
With the pet business becoming a multi-billion dollar business in recent years, it is telling us that more and more people have pets and are taking care of them. Among the fads, if you want to call it that, are “doggy daycares”, mobile groomers and dog parks. A lot of these services are great ideas as far as convenience is concerned, but how safe are they to our pets? Especially the dog parks.
No, I am not going around and saying that dog parks are bad for you dog, but there could be some hidden dangers that may be lurking for the unprotected dog. Most dog parks are public places, so there is a good possibility that not all dogs are properly vaccinated against diseases such as Parvovirus, Roundworms, or even Kennel Cough. These diseases can occur during direct contact with another dog, or even if your pet has licked an area that harbored the diseases or parasites. So my advice is to make sure that your pet is currently vaccinated for all diseases. If they’re not—do not take them there. It is not worth it to possibly expose your pets to those diseases if you can help it.
We all see the dogs being playful in the park, but how do we know that the other pets can’t become overly aggressive? Because of this, I would recommend that your pet be kept on its leash. I know that is not the reason for dog parks, but that way you can control your pet if they or another pet exhibits some aggression so that you may prevent injury and not be faced with a costly veterinary visit.
If you allow your pets to run free in the park, injuries such as torn cruciates and other lamenesses can occur. To reduce this possibility, it might help to train your pets for the rigors that a dog park presents.
Dog parks are popping up in a lot of the communities. Realize that just because they are in a fenced in environment, they are not always completely safe. If you have any questions or issues, please feel free to contact us or give us a call at 618-656-5868.
Pet vaccines are important, and they have a long history. Probably the most important technological gains were discovered in the 1790’s by Dr. Edward Jenner. He discovered the first vaccination by giving people a preparation of material from cowpox, which was a common animal disease in cattle. The people that were injected with or “vaccinated” with the material did not get sick and remained healthy when they were exposed to the deadly smallpox virus. Over 100 years later, a French scientist by the name of Louis Pastuer, found that they could protect people and animals from disease by injecting altered forms of microorganisms.
The process of how a vaccine works is a complex reaction that involves many chemical and cellular reactions within and between the immune system cells of the body. Basically the role of the vaccine is to expose the immune system of the pet to viral and bacterial antigens that are contained in the vaccine. In the future, when the pet is exposed to that related organism, the body will recognize it and then activate the immune system to prevent the disease from producing or reducing the signs of clinical disease.
Vaccines can be administered by subcutaneous or intramuscular injections, intranasal or orally. The vaccines that are injected or given orally tend to produce a more systemic or whole body response, whereas the intranasal provides a more local response. Intranasal vaccines can be advantageous to provide a quicker response and prevent or kill the new virus before it can get any further in the body. Local nasal vaccines would not be helpful for a virus that has been ingested and causes intestinal disease such as parvovirus in dogs. For that we would want a vaccine that would produce a more systemic response.
The vaccines that we use in veterinary medicine are most generally either a killed or a modified live (attenuated) vaccine. There are multiple indications for both, but generally speaking the killed vaccines are safer and unlikely to cause disease in the immunocompromised pet. Whereas, the live vaccines provide a more amplified response that leads to a better, longer lasting immune protection. Several of the vaccines that we use have many different viruses in one injection. This allows to vaccinate for several of the organisms in one injection.
To confuse you even more, pets get some protection through the placenta when the puppies and kittens are in the mother’s uterus and when they get colostrum which is the first milk that they drink. This protection will decrease over time and usually will be low enough by 12 weeks of age where vaccinations will start reacting. There is no way to measure quick, easy and inexpensive way to measure the immunity gained here, so we generally recommend starting vaccines at 6 to 8 weeks of age and then booster them every 2 to 4 weeks until they are 16 weeks of age. Generally, it is not the number of vaccinations that they get, but when they get them at their chronological age.
A vaccine helps prime an animal against a specific disease. It does this by stimulating the immune system with a nonpathogenic virus or bacteria. If the animal responds adequately, it will develop cells that will help it to quickly and efficiently fight off the pathogenic form of the agent if it is encountered later. Here at Olsen Veterinary Clinic, we have tailored our vaccination programs to meet the needs of your pet. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us here, or call our office at 618-656-5868.
Recently you may have read in the news about a distemper outbreak at a St. Louis adoption agency that killed several dogs and puppies. That is terrible news, but most times, distemper can be preventible.
Distemper is a viral disease that is related to the virus that causes measles in humans. It is spread through all body secretions, especially airborne particles from breathing. This makes it easy for an untreated or unvaccinated dogs to be infected. It appears most often in puppies that are between 6 and 12 weeks who haven’t been vaccinated because the protective antibodies that they had received from their mothers had fallen to a level too low to prevent infection. Not only dogs transfer the infection, but other animals are threats to spread this disease. The most common species that can spread distemper are raccoons, skunks and foxes. Coming into contact with the droppings of these animals can easily spread the disease.
Initially, the disease may present itself with mild symptoms may be mild. These symptoms may include:
- Fever of 103 to 109
- Watery discharge from the eyes and nose
- Depression and listlessness
- Loss of appetite
- Thick, yellow discharge from the eyes and nose
- Dry cough
- Pus blisters on the abdomen
As the disease progresses, it attacks the brain and the symptoms become neurological. Disease progression clinical signs could include:
- Head shaking
- Chewing jaw motions
- Seizure-like symptoms, such as falling over and kicking feet uncontrollably
- Rhythmic muscle jerking of the head and neck
- Thick, horny skin on the nose and callus-like pads on the feet
If your pet gets distemper, it can’t be cured. Dogs that have progressed to the neurological stage are at a much higher risk of death than if it is caught earlier and treated. Treatment can help the dog mount an immune response better or it may lessen the symptoms of distemper. Since distemper is a virus, the dog’s life relies on the dog’s ability to fight off the disease. Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to prevent secondary infections. He may also give the dog IV fluids to address the dehydration and he may prescribe medications to control diarrhea, vomiting and seizures.
Success of the treatments are largely dependent on the age of the dog, how quickly you seek help, the distemper strain, and whether your dog has been vaccinated. Vaccination against distemper is highly protective.
Some dogs may recover on their own, but owners should never take the wait and see approach with distemper. If your dog recovers from distemper, and that is a big “if”, your dog would be naturally immune to a second attack, just like measles in humans.
I would recommend using caution when socializing puppies or unvaccinated dogs at parks, obedience classes, doggy day care and other places where dogs can congregate since this disease is quite contagious. Make sure that you do not share food or water bowls with other dogs as this can be a common source of infection.
I can’t stress enough how important that your dog should be vaccinated for distemper. This vaccination is usually started when the puppy is 5 to 6 weeks old and continued every 3 to 4 weeks until the puppy is 4 months old. This should provide long lasting immunity. But it is not permanent. If your dog is adopted, ask the facility if and when they had given the distemper vaccine. No dog should ever die of distemper as the vaccinations are quite effective.
With the quality vaccines distemper is very preventible. Keeping your pet current on its’ vaccines is extremely important. If you have any further questions or need your pet vaccinated, please feel free to contact us here or call us at 618-656-5868.
Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that is of particular concern to puppy owners due to the severity of the symptoms, the weak immune system and possible death of the puppy. The virus manifests itself in two forms. The most common form is the intestinal form, which is characterized by vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy and lack of appetite. The less common form is the cardiac form, which attacks the heart muscles of very young puppies, often leading to death.
The intestinal form of the virus is passed through oral contact both directly and indirecty with the virus. Clinical signs will show most commonly about 5 to 10 days after exposure. It can also be spread through fomites, feces, or through infected soil and once an uninfected dog comes in to oral contact with the infection, the virus can spread quickly through the lymphoid tissue in the dog’s throat. After replication the virus will then spread to the bloodstream where it attacks cells in the bone marrow, lymph nodes, and intestines. Parvovirus then destroys those fast growing cells, depleting the body of the white blood cells and the lymphocytes, along with destroying the cells in the intestines. Puppies can then become toxic and septicemic due to the poisoning of the blood system from the virus. The puppy has the inability to absorb nutrients and will become dehydrated and weak quickly from lack of protein and fluid absorption. The puppy’s abdomen may become painful on palpation and the heart may beat rapidly.
The cardiac form seen in puppies is usually fatal. It is less common and is usually spread to the puppy in utero or when the mother is pregnant with them. The virus damages the heart muscle which aren’t strong enough to withstand the virus. The death of the puppies with this form usually come on suddenly and the puppy shows little sign of distress.
Parvo is usually a disease of young puppies from four weeks to six months of age or in the older immunosuppressed dog. Time is one of the most significant factors in whether or not a treatment of parvo will be successful: thr earlier the virus is detected and the treatment begins, the better the outlook for treatment. If the virus is caught quickly enough, treatment can begin and death can be prevented. So if your pet has any of those symptoms, it is best to seek veterinary care immediately. The mortality rate is around 91% if left untreated, but with treatment mortality rates drop to 5% to 20% when treated aggressively. When presented with a possible parvo puppy, most veterinarian’s protocols will include a thorough physical examination, necessary blood work such as a complete blood count and chemistry and either an EIA or hemagglutination test on a feces sample to look for signs of parvovirus.
A puppy should always be hospitalized in order to receive treatment. Treatment usually consists of administration of IV fluids and colloids, administration of anti-nausea medications and injections of antibiotics depending upon the dog and the veterinarian administering the treatment. The administration of the fluids serve as both to rehydrate and rebalance the levels of the electrolytes to maintain healthy functions. Sometimes blood plasma transfusions may be needed to provide passive immunity to the sick individual with developed antibodies. After the initial treatment, the puppy will be weaned off additional fluids once they are able to keep fluids down. Bland foods that are easy on the gastrointestinal system is usually recommended along with oral antibiotics to help fight potential for infection due to the low white blood cell counts. Any infections following the treatment of parvovirus can lead to death because of the weakened immune system.
Because parvo can be a devastating virus, one of the most significant things any dog owner can do is prevent infection of their dog. The first step in preventing it is to properly have their puppy vaccinated based on the recommendation of their veterinarian. Most puppies derive immunity through their mother’s colostral antibodies that they receive with the first milk that they get after birth. Because of this, here at the Olsen Veterinary Clinic, we recommend starting a vaccination schedule at 6 to 8 weeks of age and then vaccinate every 3 to 4 weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks old. Our recommendation is not the number of vaccinations that it gets, but when they get them at their chronological age.
To prevent the spread of the parvovirus, it is important to decontaminate where your puppy has been. It is also important to realize that even though your puppy survived the treatment, it can still contaminate other healthy dogs with the virus through their feces. The parvovirus can survive living in the soil for as long as a year so it is crucial to decontaminate completely areas where and infected or successfully treated dog eliminates its waste. The only chemical known to kill parvo is bleach at a 15:1 ratio. The general advice is to wait about 6 months before bringing a new puppy home. It is also advised to have the puppy completely vaccinated before bringing them in to a home that has been recently exposed to the parvovirus.
The old adage of “happy neighbors are good neighbors” applies here. An important step is to notify your neighbors and friends if they have been in contact with your premises or pet. Since parvo can be spread from dog to dog in addition to being spread through feces and soil, it is important that your neighbors know. They may simply expose their pet to parvo by simply walking their puppy on your grass or even by walking across your yard and then taking it home. It is important to share the information that you have learned with your neighbors because if they see similar clinical signs and symptoms, they can act on it promptly.
Parvovirus is a very destructive and very rapidly moving disease that can kill an otherwise healthy puppy in a matter of days, but with proper precautions it can possibly be wiped out. All it takes is regular vaccinations of all dogs in addition to treatment and appropriate decontamination of infected areas. Even if a dog is successfully treated and recovers from parvo without proper decontamination of the home area, it is possible to spread the disease to other dogs in the community. It takes a combinations of responsible pet ownership, good veterinary care, and vigilant decontamination of infected areas in order to prevent and hopefully eliminate this virus.