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Parvoviruses are small, hardy viruses that infect a variety of animal species. In dogs, canine parvovirus type 2(CPV2) produces a disease called parvo. The parvovirus that most commonly infects cats is feline panleukopenia virus. This virus produces a pet disease called by various names including panleukopenia, feline infectious enteritis and feline distemper. Both parvo and panleukopenia are highly contagious and disproportionately affect young pets. These pet diseases, however, are far less common now than in the past due to the widespread availability of effective vaccines.

How Parvovirus Affects Your Pet

Dogs and cats become infected with CPV2 or panleukopenia virus when they ingest virus particles. These particles are shed in the feces of infected and recovering animals and are extremely difficult to eliminate. They remain on contaminated surfaces even after feces have been removed with water or household cleaners. Virus particles also adhere to fur and anything else they come into contact with including crates, bedding, clothing, shoes and other materials. They can remain infective in the environment for over a year. Once inside the body, virus particles attack rapidly reproducing cells, including cells in the bone marrow and those lining the gastrointestinal tract, and make more copies of themselves. Typically, symptoms are determined by the types of cells targeted. Most canine and feline parvovirus infections produce severe gastrointestinal symptoms and immune system suppression. These symptoms usually begin four to five days after a pet is infected. Newborn puppies can also suffer heart damage due to parvovirus infection. In addition, infection of kittens with panleukopenia virus in the womb can result in a type of brain damage called cerebellar hypoplasia.

Common Symptoms of Parvovirus

Typically, symptoms of parvo and panleukopenia are acute and severe. They can include the following symptoms: In dogs, foul-smelling watery diarrhea containing mucous or blood. In cats, yellow diarrhea with or without streaks of blood, Vomiting, Dehydration, Fever, Loss of appetite, Weakness, Depression, Abdominal pain, Vocalization and Sudden death especially in kittens.

Treatments for Parvovirus

There is no cure for this pet disease, so treatment is supportive. For animals to recover, they must be protected from other infections and kept hydrated while their immune systems clear the virus. Supportive care for animals with parvovirus usually includes intensive fluid therapy to correct dehydration, antibiotics to prevent opportunistic infections, medications to reduce fever, nutritional support and other treatments as symptoms dictate. In all but the mildest of cases, infected animals require hospitalization to have a good chance of recovery. This pet health condition is very serious and can be fatal. Because parvo and panleukopenia are widespread and highly contagious, all puppies and kittens should be vaccinated against them. In addition, infected animals must be isolated to keep them from spreading the illness to vulnerable pets. 

Breeds Affected

Parvo and panleukopenia affect dogs and cats of all breeds. For some unknown reason, however, dogs from black and tan breeds, including Rottweilers and Doberman pinschers, tend to become infected more easily and have more serious symptoms than dogs from other breeds.

Pet Insurance

When adding a dog or cat to your family you want to make sure your pet is happy, healthy and protected. During its lifetime your pet is exposed to many illnesses and diseases and some breeds are affected by a congenital disease which is a condition existing at birth. At these moments when your pet is ill or maybe needs surgery, you want to be protected for the unexpected and high veterinarian costs.

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