Tag: contagious

Parvovirus – Deadly, but Preventable!

First things first – What is Parvo?

Almost every mammal species has its own parvovirus. The canine parvovirus was discovered in 1967. At first the strain present CPV-1 did not represent much of a threat except to newborn puppies. In 1978 a new variant appeared called CPV-2. At this time the virus was still new and no dog had any kind of immunity against the virus. With no resistance and no natural immunity to the virus, the resulting epidemic was disastrous.

canine-parvovirus-parvo-in-dogs-1In 1979, the virus mutated again creating the CPV-2a. This strain was even more aggressive that the first two. Vaccine manufacturers were unable to keep up with the demand. The virus is able to rapidly spread and infect dogs because it is shed in large numbers by infected dogs and is especially hardy once in the environment.

At this point in time, the virus is considered to be in every environment. Simply trying to keep a puppy from exposure to the virus is a futile task. Luckily, most dogs have some level of natural immunity to the virus and vaccination against it is common practice now.

How is it spread?

Parvo is spread through the feces of infected dogs. Very little fecal material is needed to transmit the virus. Parvovirus can remain in the environment for six months to a year. It is especially tough and it can survive both extreme heat and subzero temperatures. The virus enters the body through the mouth as the puppy or dog cleans itself or eats food off the ground. There is a three to seven day incubation period. First, the virus hangs out in the lymph nodes in the throat and begins to multiply. Once the virus has reached sufficient numbers, it then begins to attack the bone marrow and begins to kill the young cells of the immune system. 

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Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of parvovirus include severe, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, vomiting, weight loss, lack of appetite, and fever. Parvo should be considered as a possible diagnosis for any young dog presenting with vomiting and diarrhea.

The GI tract is where the most damage is done by the virus. The lining of the intestinal tract is covered in finger like projections called villi. The villi are covered in even smaller finger like projections called microvilli. These projections increase the surface area of the intestine allowing for absorption of nutrients. The cells that make the the microvilli are short lived and are replaced by cells deeper in the tissue that rapidly multiply. The parvovirus strikes these cells. The villi then become blunted and the dog is not able to absorb nutrients. The lining between the digestive bacteria and the blood stream is broken down. This is what causes the characteristic bloody diarrhea of parvo. Bacteria can now enter the bloodstream causing widespread infection.

The virus kills in one of two ways. The first is dehydration and fluid loss brought on by diarrhea and vomiting. The second is bacterial infection from the loss of the intestinal barrier.

parvotestHow is it Diagnosed?

A diagnosis is made by Parvo ELISA test. This is performed in clinic and takes about 15 minutes to run. The biggest drawback to the ELISA test is that recent vaccination with a live virus vaccine can cause a false positive. In this case, doing a complete blood count to look for a drop in white blood cells may also be done.

Treatment

With proper treatment and hospitalization, the survival rate is 75-80%. Treatment of parvovirus centers around supportive care. Supportive care includes keeping the dog hydrated, comfortable, and as strong as possible. There is no way to kill the virus inside the dog. The only way to cure parvo is to keep the dog strong enough that eventually the immune system is able to make enough antibodies to the virus to fight it on its own. When treating parvo, be prepared for a 5-7 day hospital stay and intensive care. Unfortunately, treatment can be expensive. 

puppy-diarrhea-vetThe first step in treating parvo is keeping the dog hydrated. IV fluids are needed to replace the fluids lost by the extreme vomiting and diarrhea. Antibiotics are also needed to help prevent septicemia. The loss of the intestinal barrier allows bacteria from the GI tract into the bloodstream. Since the virus destroys the the immune system, the dog has no way to fight on its own. Keeping the patient comfortable is a key part in treating any disease.

Tests are done to monitor the progress of the disease and effectiveness of the treatment throughout the puppy’s time in hospitalization. These tests include white blood cell counts, complete blood count, electrolyte and glucose levels, urine specific gravity, lactate levels, and total blood protein.

There are some additional treatments that can be done to help the puppy (such as plasma transfusions and certain kinds of cold medicine). However, these options are not a substitute for hospitalization and need to be discussed in detail with your veterinarian before starting them. 

Aftercare

Once the puppy has recovered from the worst of the infection, they can then be sent home. They will most likely be sent home with antibiotics, anti-nausea, and anti-diarrhea medications. It is important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions for the medications and home care.

puppyeatingYour puppy will probably be very hungry after going so long without solid food. He should be fed in small portions every 1-2 hours. If he is allowed to gorge himself, this can upset his already delicate tummy.

Your puppy should be considered contagious to other puppies for at least a month after infection. It is important to keep him confined from any dogs that have not had the full vaccine series. Your veterinarian will let you know when it’s ok to resume vaccines. It is possible that your puppy has developed a life long immunity from the parvovirus since the infection. You should still continue vaccinating him for parvo along with all other recommend vaccines. There should be no permanent ramifications from the parvovirus. After the 2-3 week recovery period your dog should go on to lead a happy, healthy life.

Prevention

To prevent parvovirus infection in your puppy, you must follow the recommended vaccine schedule. Starting at six weeks of age your puppy should be vaccinated every 3-4 vxweeks until he is 16 weeks of age. Until your puppy has completed the vaccine series, he should be kept away from other puppies and kept out of dog parks or other social situations. Once your puppy has had all necessary vaccines he is ready to begin exploring the world with you!

There’s a Fungus Among Us!

Ringworm is a fairly common and highly contagious skin, nail, and hair or fur infection that despite its name does not always manifest as a ring and is NOT caused by a worm! Ringworm is actually caused by a fungus! There are several different types of fungi that are responsible for ringworm infections and many of them are zoonotic, meaning the infection can be transmitted to and from both humans and pets. The infection is easily spread by skin to skin contact and from objects or surfaces that have been touched by an infected person or pet such as clothing, towels or bedding, and brushes or combs. The fungi also occur in soil.

So what does a ringworm infection look like?

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Symptoms of Ringworm in Pets

Ringworm is not a life-threatening disease, but it is very contagious and does require the intervention of a veterinarian. Knowing the symptoms of ringworm can help you catch the disease before it passes to humans or other pets.

ringworm3aRingworm usually presents as circular areas of hair loss throughout the body. These lesions may start to heal in the center as they enlarge, creating a patchy appearance, and may become inflamed or scabbed.

Ringworm usually does not itch. The affected hair follicles are brittle and break easily, which helps spread the disease throughout your home. In some cases the fungus infects the claws, making them brittle and rough.

Contact your veterinarian if your dog or cat experiences any or all of these symptoms:ringworm3

  • Circular areas of hair loss
  • Dry, brittle hair
  • Scabby, inflamed skin
  • Rough, brittle claws

How is Ringworm diagnosed?

Often your veterinarian can determine from the symptoms your pets has that it is a ringworm infection. There is also a special type of ultraviolet lamp called a Woods Lamp that can be used. Some types of ringworm fungi will fluoresce when exposed to this light.

Unfortunately, not all ringworm infections will fluoresce. Your veterinarian may need to set up a culture to determine the best course of treatment.

How is ringworm treated?

Your veterinarian will determine the best course of treatment. The most common way to treat ringworm is to use a combination of topical therapy (application of creams, ointments or shampoos) and systemic oral therapy (administration of anti-fungal drugs by mouth). In order for treatment to be successful, all environmental contamination must be eliminated.  All surfaces must be cleaned and all bedding should be washed. Humans should be diligent about washing hands frequently and thoroughly. If you suspect you have ringworm you should see your doctor. The earlier the infection can be diagnosed the more the chance of spreading the infection decreases.

By: Kathy Berrier

“Two Dogs Walk Into A Kennel…”

kennelcough1Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, better known as “Kennel Cough”, is a contagious respiratory disease that is commonly transmitted in places like boarding and grooming facilities. Dogs spread this disease via oral transmission such as airborne droplets (from a cough), direct contact, or contaminated surfaces (water bowls, floors). Kennel cough can be treated easily, however in dogs younger than 6 months and immunocompromised dogs, it poses a more serious risk.

Symptoms present as: a strong cough (“honking” sound), runny nose, sneezing, lethargy, loss of appetite and sometimes fever. Mild cases can be treated with a course of antibiotics and a serious prescription for rest and relaxation. Cough suppressants may also be prescribed to ease any throat pain that can occur.

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Image: Bordetella bacterium

The bordetella vaccine is something that your veterinarian will recommend as a part of their “core vaccines” along with rabies and DHPP (distemper/hepatitis/parvovirus/parainfluenza).

The vaccine is available in oral, nasal and injectable forms and is typically given twice – once and then boostered in about 2-4 weeks. Afterwards, the vaccine is re-administered every 6 months. While the bordetella vaccine will not prevent against kennel cough, it will certainly ease the symptoms if your pet is infected.

Because the disease is so highly contagious, most grooming and boarding facilities will require that your pet be vaccinated against this before coming to their facility. Ultimately, you should consult your veterinarian about frequency of administration and if your dog is at risk. This vaccine isn’t just for little Fluffy who gets a haircut every couple weeks, we also recommend it for Fido who just goes outside for walks.

Further information can be found through your veterinarian but also online at:

  1. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/kennel-cough-symptoms-treatment-and-prevention/
  2. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/common-dog-diseases

By: Madison Cole

Don’t let canine flu give your dog the blues!

how-to-protect-your-dog-from-fleas-and-ticks-at-the-dog-park

Just like people, dogs can be affected by different strains of influenza. There are two strains of the influenza virus known to affect dogs; H3N8 and H3N2. H3N8 broke out around 2004 in Florida and H3N2 was first seen in Chicago in 2015. Since then it has been seen in almost all parts of the United States and several other countries as well.

Unfortunately, Texas has seen confirmed cases of both strains of the canine influenza virus (or CIV). This respiratory infection is relatively new. Because of this, almost all dogs are susceptible to infection when exposed because they have not built up natural immunity to it yet. Most dogs that develop an infection caused by this virus have a mild illness, but some dogs get very sick and require treatment from their veterinarian. Virtually all dogs exposed become infected with the virus, but only 80% develop clinical signs. The other approximate 20% of infected dogs that do not exhibit clinical signs can still shed the virus and spread the infection. Scary, right?

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So, how is it spread?

Canine Influenza can pass between dogs through virus particles in the air (coughing or sneezing) or by coming into physical contact with other dogs. It can also be transferred indirectly—say if a dog touches or plays with objects that were touched by infected dogs (food bowls or toys). Humans can even transfer the virus between dogs if they do not properly sanitize after touching an infected dog, or if their clothing isn’t properly cleaned. Incubation of the virus is typically 2-5 days from exposure to the onset of clinical signs and it can still be spread during that time.Untitled

We are doing everything we can to help keep this virus contained in our community. Education is the first step to preventing more outbreaks! Vaccines are available for both the H3N8 and H3N2 strains. There is even a combination vaccine (or bivalent vaccine) that covers for both strains in just one vaccine. Just like when your dog was an adorable puppy, if this vaccine is new to their system they would need to get one booster done 2-4 weeks after the initial vaccination was given. After that, the vaccine is done once yearly.

You can do your part by vaccinating your dog for canine influenza. If your pet is not currently vaccinated, you should avoid places where dogs congregate such as dog parks, grooming salons, kennels and daycares. Be sure to check with your groomer and/or boarding facilities about their vaccination policies to make sure you are in compliance with them! We highly recommend that every dog be vaccinated for both strains of the canine influenza, regardless of their lifestyle.

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If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to get your dog vaccinated, please contact us at 281-282-9944 (or your regular veterinarian!). We’re happy to talk about this and help you decide what is best for your dog!

By: Shelly Crosson

 

It’s been a bad flu season… for dogs!

By: Tara Sansing

As you have most likely already seen via the news there have been recent outbreaks of the flu in dogs across the country. At least two positive cases have been confirmed in the Houston area in the last couple of weeks.

Please be aware that this is the second strain of dog-flu-symptomsinfluenza that has been known to affect dogs. In the past, we have seen outbreaks of the Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) otherwise known as the H3N8 strain. The current flu virus, H3N2, emerged in Asia in 2005 and spread to the United States in 2015. Since then, there have been scattered positive cases in dogs across the country and more recently large outbreaks in several states.

Just like the H3N8 flu virus, H3N2 is an upper respiratory virus. The most common symptoms are coughing, fever, nasal discharge, lethargy and lack of appetite. Dogs are contagious for 5-7 days prior to showing the first symptoms and it is for this reason that H3N2 has spread very quickly. Because the virus is relatively new, dogs have no natural immunity against the virus—if unvaccinated and exposed, the chances of being infected is close to 100%.

The significance of an influenza infection is that it compromises the normal defense mechanisms of the canine respiratory tract so that secondary bacterial infections, including pneumonia, are common. The mortality rate for the virus and resulting infections is 8%. The dogs most at risk of dying are very old, young or are immune compromised because of another condition. Breeds such as Bulldogs, Boston terriers, German shepherds, etc. are more susceptible to secondary lung infection.

Who should be vaccinated?

Any dogs that walk in the neighborhood, visit with neighbor dogs through the fence, get dogs-playing-dog_parkbathed/groomed, board, go to training classes or play at the dog park are at high risk.  It is important to understand, however, that a dog does not have to come in direct contact with a dog that has the virus. The virus can live in the environment for several days and so any dogs that are in the same area later are also at risk.  The H3N2 virus can also be brought home by any person that has come into contact with the virus.

Please note that much like the flu vaccine in humans, the vaccine does not guarantee that a dog will not contract the virus but the symptoms will be much less severe and the dog should recover more quickly.  Any dog that has not received the vaccine in the past will need an initial vaccine followed by a booster in 2-4 weeks. The H3N2 vaccine should continue to be administered annually along with the H3N8 vaccine.

Starting July 1st, all dogs that drop off for baths and boarding at our clinic will need be vaccinated for both strains of influenza. This is for the safety of all patients in our care.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a time for your pup(s) to come in for the vaccine, please contact the clinic at 281-282-9944.