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Canine Parvovirus and Assistant Dogs

Published: 2013-06-19 - Updated: 2021-04-14
Author: Thomas C. Weiss | Contact: Disabled World (

Synopsis: Information regarding canine parvovirus a highly contagious disease of dogs includes signs symptoms and treatment of the dog. The canine version of parvovirus is a very serious viral infection that is so powerful it may affect all of your dogs at the same time, not only an assistant dog. Even if the virus is successfully eliminated from a dog's body and the disease is completely cleared, damage to the dog's heart may remain.

Main Digest

A contagious virus mainly affecting dogs. The disease is highly contagious and is spread from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with their feces. It can be especially severe in puppies that are not protected by maternal antibodies or vaccination. Following an incubation period that averages four to five days, the acute illness begins with depression, vomiting, and diarrhea. Treatment often involves veterinary hospitalization. Vaccinations, starting by 8 weeks of age, will prevent most (but not all) cases of parvovirus infection - mortality can reach 91% in untreated cases. Canine parvovirus will not infect humans.


The canine version of parvovirus is a very serious viral infection that is so powerful it may affect all of your dogs at the same time, not only an assistant dog. To make matters worse, dogs carrying this virus may not recover. There is a small chance that your assistant dog, therapy dog, or other pet might be fully cured of the condition and it is only right that you take the necessary precautions to prevent your dog from acquiring this disease in the first place.

Canine parvovirus is dangerous because it attacks the dog's white blood cells, heart muscles, as well as their intestinal tract. When the dog's vital organs are invaded by this virus it destroys them and they become non-functional. Canine parvovirus can take the life of your assistant or therapy dog, as well as the life of your other dogs. The symptoms of the disease are so extreme that you will know right away that there is something definitely wrong with your dog.

Yesterday, a neighbor of mine whose name is, 'Richard,' came to my door; his news was not good. Richard is a young man with disabilities who lives a few houses down the street from me and he has a terrier named, 'Smokey.' Smokey is only five months old and has been a tremendous source of friendship and assistance to Richard.

Richard and his mother asked me if I could drive them and Smokey to the vet. Smokey was lethargic, vomiting, and was disoriented. Despite these symptoms, poor Smokey was still very sweet and loving. Of course I took them to the vet's office.

The veterinarian came out to the car to examine Smokey - they didn't want to take the chance that Smokey had something that would spread to the other dogs inside. The vet drew a blood sample and tested it; the test only took a few minutes. The vet also took a sample of Smokey's saliva to test.

When the vet came back outside, the news was not good; Smokey has canine parvovirus. Smokey had also chewed through some ant bait traps in the back yard, which presented him with additional symptoms. It is very, very important for people to keep ant, mouse, or other poison traps away from their pets.

Smokey, Richard's dog
Smokey, Richard's dog

When a dog is infected by the parvovirus it will experience severe diarrhea and the dog's waste has a distinct and rather foul odor. Smokey was caught very early after catching this virus and had not reached this point yet. When the test at the vet's office came back, it originally came back as a, 'false-negative,' for the parvovirus. A second run of the test came back positive. Smokey had a fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, and was clearly depressed. All of these symptoms were ones that Richard and his mother had noticed in Smokey.

Unfortunately, these symptoms indicate that the virus had already invaded the majority of Smokey's vital organs. In the worst case, he may die in a matter of a couple of days from the symptoms. What this means is that the virus is in its worse case before people are even aware of it. Attempts to reverse the situation might be futile, particularly if the dog has a low immune system.

The parvovirus might also cause complications such as inflammation of the dog's heart. The condition is mostly seen in dogs that are under the age of three months, which means that Smokey has a better chance in this regard. Even if the virus is successfully eliminated from a dog's body and the disease is completely cleared, damage to the dog's heart may remain.

For Smokey, the veterinarian might very well have applied treatment in time to save him. For Richard, this is a very good thing - Smokey is his best friend in life. Smokey received a series of shots, will have to take sips of water and Pedialite for a couple of days, and cannot eat any food until this period of time is over. It looks like Smokey is going to make it through this fight with parvovirus.

If your dog experiences parvovirus it will need intensive care so it has a fighting chance against this horrible disease. The first approach related to treatment is to deal with dehydration related to diarrhea. Even the best veterinarian will tell you that there is a high chance your dog will not completely recover from this, even with intensive care. Intravenous fluids and medications to control diarrhea and vomiting are many times required. More severe cases of parvovirus might require blood plasma transfusions and additional intensive care.

Puppies and dogs should not eat or drink until the vomiting has stopped, yet require fluid support during this time. The process can take three to five days. Antibiotics are prescribed in order to prevent septicemia and other forms of bacterial complications which are the usual causes of death. The outcomes depends upon the virulence of the particular strain of parvovirus, as well as the age and immune status of the dog and how quickly the dog receives treatment. For Smokey, luck was with him - Richard and his mother saw the signs, knew what they meant and got him treatment quickly. For most puppies who are under good veterinarian care recovery does not involve complications.

Canine parvovirus is highly contagious. Parvovirus can live outside of a dog's body for extended periods of time. Because of this, it can transfer from one dog to another very easily. When a dog sniffs, licks, or even comes in contact with another dog's waste that is suffering from this disease it may become infected too.

Preventing Parvovirus in Assistant, Therapy, and Other Dogs

Thoroughly clean and disinfect the quarters where an infected dog is quartered. Parvovirus is an extremely hardy virus that resists the majority of household cleaners and survives on the premises for months. The most effective disinfectant is regular bleach in a 1 to 32 dilution. The bleach must be left on contaminated surfaces for 20 minutes before you rinse the surface.

The best and only way to prevent the parvovirus from infecting your assistant, therapy, or other dog from entering into your household is to vaccinate your dogs. The shots for canine parvovirus are available through your local veterinarian. The parvovirus vaccine is commonly administered through three shots; each of them is scheduled separately from the other. When your dog is old enough it will be administered a booster shot to complete the immunization process.

Author Credentials:

Thomas C. Weiss is a researcher and editor for Disabled World. Thomas attended college and university courses earning a Masters, Bachelors and two Associate degrees, as well as pursing Disability Studies. As a Nursing Assistant Thomas has assisted people from a variety of racial, religious, gender, class, and age groups by providing care for people with all forms of disabilities from Multiple Sclerosis to Parkinson's; para and quadriplegia to Spina Bifida.

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Cite This Page (APA): Thomas C. Weiss. (2013, June 19). Canine Parvovirus and Assistant Dogs. Disabled World. Retrieved September 18, 2021 from