Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rescue Kitten Lucas by Shann Ikezawa, DVM


We are saddened to report that despite aggressive and dedicated care by the Good Samaritan that originally rescued Lucas, he continued to have episodes of constipation and weakness. He spent weeks in and out of the hospital on fluids and multiple medications trying to correct his disease, but he failed to gain any weight and had intermittent periods of collapse. Ultimately, our Good Samaritan and the doctors here agreed the most compassionate decision would be to stop putting Lucas through any more and he was humanely euthanized. It is these patients that remind me of the best part of my job- our wonderful, generous clients, and the worst- the pets that can't be saved.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ask the Vet: Winter Holidays by Kristel Weaver, DVM, MPVM

December has arrived and toys, electronics, and wrapping paper pack the stores. It's fun to include our pets in the holiday celebration, but watch out for seasonal hazards.

It's the most wonderful time of the year
Including pets in seasonal festivities is trendy and fun. At our house, each pet has his or her own paw print stocking which we stuff with toys and chews on Christmas morning. If they're lucky, they get other presents like a new collar or bed. We've received adorable holiday cards starring beloved pets. For example, last year we received a card with the family Boxer dressed as an elf and another with the whole family in Santa hats, including their Golden Retrievers! The possibilities are endless!

Rockin' around the Christmas tree or Menorah
The Christmas tree presents several avoidable hazards. Make sure the tree is well anchored so it cannot be pulled or knocked over by a climbing cat or rambunctious dog. Keep the power cords protected from cord chewing pets. Hang ornaments that resemble toys out of reach. Avoid loose tinsel or ribbon that can be eaten and cause a linear foreign body. Consider putting strung popcorn up high or leaving it off altogether. A lit Menorah is a fire hazard; ensure your pets can't knock it over.

Deck the halls with toxic holiday plants?
Three of the most common holiday plants can be toxic to pets. If enough holly is ingested it can cause an upset stomach and symptoms similar to a caffeine overdose. Fortunately, holly isn't very tasty, so toxicity is uncommon. Mistletoe can cause upset stomach and cardiovascular signs if a substantial amount is consumed. Lastly, Poinsettia can cause drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea if enough is eaten. Poinsettia toxicity is typically exaggerated and in reality poses only a mild concern.

While visions of sugar plums, raisin, and chocolate danced in their heads
Chocolate is very toxic to dogs, however the size of the dog and the darkness of the chocolate determine whether or not it will cause a serious problem. For example, dark chocolate is more likely to be toxic than milk chocolate and a Chihuahua is more likely to be symptomatic than a Saint Bernard. Raisins can be toxic to dogs and cause acute kidney failure. Keep it all out of reach.

Best wishes for a healthy, happy holiday to you and your pets!

Dr. Kristel Weaver is a graduate of the Veterinary School at the University of California, Davis where she received both a DVM and a Master’s of Preventative Veterinary Medicine (MPVM).  She has been at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care in San Ramon since 2007.  She currently lives in Oakland with her husband and their daughter, Hayley. If you have questions you would like Dr. Weaver to answer for future articles, please email info@webvets.com



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bunnies, Geckos, and Budgies: The Importance of Preventative Care for Exotic Pets by Shann Ikezawa, DVM


The diminutive size of reptiles, birds, and rodents can sometimes be misleading. People often think they will make simple pets, kept in cages or tanks, requiring little time and attention. Each species, however, has specific needs, some quite complex, and the wrong diet and environment can lead to a variety of health problems.

Preventative health care is important in all the pets we see at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care, but is it even more essential in our exotic patients. Reptiles have unique requirements for temperature, humidity, light, and diet. Mistakes in their husbandry lead to fractured legs, seizures, infections, and other internal disease. Bird owners often find well meaning advice on diet and behavior is incorrect and lead to obesity and a biting, screaming pet. Rabbits and rodents are often started on inappropriate diets, leading to obesity and dental disease. 

Owners are also often unaware of signs that indicate illness. Exotic pets behave very differently than a dog or cat and tend to hide disease until they are critically ill. A little research and preventative health care go a long way in the care of your exotic pet. Unavoidable medical problems or accidents may occur, but proper husbandry can prevent some of the most common health problems we see in exotic pets. Your veterinarian will help educate and guide you in the proper care of your exotic pet so that they can live a healthy, happy life.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Good Samaritan Rescue Kitten Update by Shann Ikezawa, DVM

Our little stray kitten, now named "Lucas", has been doing well in the care of our good Samaritan client. He has had a few ups and downs, including an episode of weakness, but overall is starting to show improvement and signs of normal kitten behavior. He is down to 2 medications daily and has been able to defecate on his own. We are in the process of fine tuning medications and evaluating for congenital problems. During his check up today, he spent most of his time purring and a small amount of time yelling and complaining as I palpated his abdomen... pretty typical of an opinionated feline! He has failed to gain weight properly, which is concerning, but is strong enough to manage escape. His owner reports that he broke out of his pen last night and climbed up a chair. He was found this morning, looking innocent, as if to say, "Why wouldn't I be sitting here?"

Monday Pet Tip: Medicating Your Dog


Coaxing, pleading, begging- it's for the dogs! It can be a frustrating experience to convince your canine friend to take his daily dose of medication. We have gathered together some helpful tips and advice on how to make the process go as smoothly as possible.
 
LIQUID MEDICATIONS
The easiest way to give your dog a liquid medication is to mix it with some canned food. To ensure that the medication is swallowed, it is best to hand feed a small amount of food containing the medication, rather than a large portion that the dog may not completely consume. Some dogs may be unwilling to eat the food or may have dietary restrictions that prevent you from using this technique. If this is the case, you will need to administer the medication directly into your dog’s mouth.

Place your dog in a safe and comfortable area where it can be easily handled. Have the medication prepared and easily accessible. It is easiest to give liquid medication if you have a second person available to help you.

Make sure you have carefully read the prescription label and understand the dosing instructions. Most liquid medications should be gently shaken or mixed prior to drawing them into the dosing syringe.

Gently pull your dog’s lip away from the teeth and create a “pouch” along the side of the mouth.

Place the tip of the syringe in the side of the mouth, just behind one of the canine teeth and advance the syringe so that it is in the mouth just past the tooth line.

Slowly squeeze the syringe to dispense the liquid medication. Make sure you do this slowly so the dog has time to swallow the liquid and breathe normally.

Most dogs will spit out some of the medication. DO NOT re-medicate unless you are certain that NONE of the medication was taken.

Make sure you give your dog plenty of praise throughout the procedure and offer a treat or extra playtime after giving the medication. This will make the experience more positive and make it easier to give the medication the next time.

Rinse the dropper or syringe thoroughly with water and refrigerate the remaining medication if necessary.

PILLS/CAPSULES
The easiest way to give your dog a pill is to hide the pill in food. This usually works best if the pill is hidden in a small amount of canned dog food, peanut butter or cottage cheese, or you can purchase a product called "Pill Pockets" from our hospital, which is designed specifically for this. To ensure that the pill is swallowed, it is better to hand feed a small amount of food or the Pill Pocket that the dog is certain to eat rather than offering a large portion that the dog may not completely consume. Some dogs may spit out the pill, so it is important to carefully observe your pet after administering the medication.

If your dog persists in spitting out the pills or if dietary restrictions prevent you from hiding the pills in an appealing treat, you will need to administer the pill directly into your dog’s mouth.
Place your dog in a safe and comfortable area where it can be easily handled. Have the pill ready and easily accessible.

Make sure that you have carefully read the prescription label and understand the dosing instructions.

Hold the pill between your thumb and index finger (use your dominant hand – for example, if you are right-handed, use your right hand).

Gently grasp your dog’s muzzle from above with your other hand, by placing your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other side behind the canine teeth.

Once you have a firm but gentle grip, tilt your dog’s head toward the ceiling. The lower jaw will usually drop open. If not, open the mouth by placing the last two fingers of the hand holding the pill between the two lower canine teeth and pushing downward.

Quickly place the pill as far back over the tongue as possible. The pill is most likely to be swallowed if you place it beyond the hump of the tongue at the back of the mouth. Try not to place your hand too far back to avoid stimulating a gag reflex.

Close the dog’s mouth and hold it closed while you return the head to a normal position.

Gently rub the dog’s nose or throat, or blow lightly on the dog’s nose. This should stimulate swallowing.

The dog will be most cooperative if this procedure is performed quickly, in one smooth motion.

Make sure you give plenty of praise throughout the procedure and offer a treat or extra playtime after giving the medication. This will make the experience more positive and make it easier to give the medication the next time.

EYE DROPS
The proper administration of eye medications is essential for your pet’s prompt recovery. If your dog’s eye is painful, you may need to have someone assist you with restraint or you may need to place a muzzle on your dog.

Make sure that you wash your hands both before and after administering the medication to prevent the potential spread of infection.

Make sure you have carefully read the label and understand the prescription instructions.

Hold the bottle using your thumb and index finger. You may want to rest this hand on the top of the dog’s head to help stabilize it.

With your other hand, use your thumb to pull down the lower eyelid. Place your remaining fingers under the dog’s jaw to support the head. The lower eyelid acts as a pouch to receive the drops.

Hold the bottle close to the eye but make sure you DO NOT touch the eye’s surface.

Squeeze the prescribed number of drops onto the eyeball, aiming for the center of the eye. Release the head.

The dog will blink, spreading the medication over the surface of the eye.

Make sure you give your dog plenty of praise throughout the procedure and offer a treat when you are finished.

EAR DROPS
Administering ear medications to your dog can be challenging. Remember that your pet’s ears may be painful and that even a normally gentle and passive dog may respond by struggling, biting or scratching. You may need to muzzle your dog for this procedure.

Warm any refrigerated medication by placing the bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.

Make sure you have carefully read the label and understand the prescription instructions.

Squeeze the liquid medication into the dropper or prepare the squeeze bottle as directed.

Gently pull the ear flap straight up using your other hand.

Apply the prescribed number of drops into the ear canal while continuing to keep the ear flap elevated.

Rub the base of the ear against the head in a circular motion. Be cautious and gentle as your dog may object to this procedure. You should hear a “squishing” sound as you massage the medication deep into the ear canal.

Release the ear and let your dog shake its head. If the medication contains a wax solvent, debris will be dissolved so it can be shaken out.

Make sure you give your dog plenty of praise throughout the procedure and offer a treat after giving the medication.

APPLYING CREAMS, OINTMENTS & LOTIONS
Applying topical medications to your pet can sometimes be a challenge. The information provided in this handout may help make treating your pet easier – for both of you.

What is the difference between creams, ointments and lotions?
Creams are non-greasy. Ointments have an oily base. Lotions are liquid preparations.  All are similar as far as application is concerned. Creams, ointments and lotions are for external use only. It is important to prevent your pet from licking and swallowing them.

Be sure to follow any directions concerning application of the product, e.g. using gloves, etc. This is important since some veterinary preparations may be irritating to human skin.

My dog is perfectly fine until I try to put the preparation on and then he becomes very agitated.
This may represent discomfort or actual pain. It is always a good idea to get someone to hold your dog, especially when applying medications to a sensitive or painful area. If you prefer, your veterinarian can recommend several types of comfortable muzzles that you can use when treating your pet.

I can apply the preparation but my dog licks it off as soon as it is applied.
A good tip in this case is to apply the product just before the dog is fed. Another technique is to take your dog for a short walk immediately after applying the medication. Most topical preparations work better if they are gently massaged in for a few moments after application. If you still have trouble applying your pet’s medication, please contact us and we will supply you with an Elizabethan collar. These are large plastic hoods that prevent the dog from licking at the affected area.

I have tried an Elizabethan collar but my dog goes crazy with it on!
The majority of dogs are initially upset by the collar because of its bulky size and appearance. Try giving your dog a treat or taking him for a walk to distract him from the collar. Approximately 80% of dogs will tolerate a collar with few problems.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Home for the Holidays Photo Session

Call today to set up an appointment to have your pet's picture taken at our Home for the Holiday photo session with Lisa Hermes. The event will take place the weekend after Thanksgiving, November 26th and 27th from 10am to 4pm. A high quality digital file will be emailed to you within 2 weeks of the photo session. For more information, please visit www.lisahermes.com/BRVC. Reserve your spot today, we book up fast! 925-866-8387 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Pet Tip: Administering Medications to Your Cat

It can be quite a challenge to medicate your cat- they are known for being quite willful, not to mention squirmy! We have put together some helpful tips to make administering medication to your cat as easy as possible. The tips are divided by type of medication: oral liquids, pills and capsules, eye medication, ear medication, and topical medications. If you have any tips that work great for you and your cat, please share in the comments! Next week we will go over tips for medicating your dog.

oral liquids

The easiest way to give your cat liquid medication is to mix it in with some canned food. To ensure that all of the medication is ingested, it is best to give a small amount of food that the cat is certain to eat rather than a large portion that the cat may not complete. Some cats may be unwilling to eat the food or may have dietary restrictions that prevent you from using this technique. If this is the case, you will need to administer the medication directly into the cat’s mouth.

  • Prepare an area where you can safely handle your cat. Have the medication ready and in a place where it will be easily accessible. Make sure you have carefully read the prescription label and understand the dosing instructions.
  •  Verify that you are administering the correct drug and amount. Shake the medication gently if required prior to drawing the medication into the syringe or dropper.
  •  If you are administering the medication by yourself, you may find it easiest to place your cat in your lap. It may be advisable to restrain the cat by wrapping it in a blanket or towel with only its head exposed. The first few times, it may be helpful to have someone else hold the wrapped cat while you administer the medication.
  •  Hold the syringe or dropper containing the medication with your dominant hand. First, allow the cat to lick the medication from the tip of the syringe as you slowly depress the plunger.
  •  The cat may accept the medication more readily if it is warmed to room temperature.
  •  If your cat is not interested in licking the liquid, gently take the cat by the scruff of the neck and pull the head back.  The mouth will then open slightly.
  •  Place the tip of the syringe in the side of the mouth, just behind one of the canine (“fang”) teeth.
  •  Advance the syringe so it is placed in the mouth just inside of the teeth. Be sure to angle the syringe slightly to the side. You do not want to forcefully inject the liquid straight into the back of the throat. This can increase the risk of the cat inhaling or aspirating the liquid.
  •  Slowly squeeze the syringe to dispense the liquid medication. Make sure you do this slowly so the cat has time to swallow the liquid and breathe.
  •  Most cats will spit out some of the medication. DO NOT re-medicate unless you are certain that NONE of the medication was taken.
  •  Rinse the syringe out with warm water, and refrigerate if appropriate.

pills/capsules

The easiest way to give your cat a pill is to hide the pill in food. This usually works best if the pill is hidden in a small amount of tuna, salmon or cream cheese- or you can purchase a product called "Pill Pockets" from our hospital, which is designed specifically for this. To ensure that the pill is swallowed, it is best to place the pill in a small amount of food, or a Pill Pocket, that the cat is certain to eat rather than a large portion that the cat may not complete. Some cats may spit out the pill, so it is important to monitor this activity. If your cat persists in spitting out the pills or if dietary restrictions prevent you from hiding the pills in an appealing food or treat, you will need to administer the pill directly into the cat’s mouth.

  • Prepare a safe place to handle your cat. Have the pill ready and in a place where it will be easily accessible.
  •  If you are administering the medication on your own, you may find it easiest to place your cat in your lap. You may need to have someone assist you in restraining your cat by wrapping it in a blanket or towel with only the head exposed.
  •  Make sure you have carefully read the label and understand the dosing instructions.
  •  Lubricate or “grease” the pill with a very small amount of margarine or butter so it doesn’t stick in your cat’s mouth or throat and will be easier to swallow. This is very helpful with the administration of capsules.
  •  Hold the pill between your thumb and index finger.
  •  Gently grasp your cat’s head from above with your other hand, by placing your thumb on one side of the upper jaw and your fingers on the other. Tilt the cat’s head back over its shoulder so that its nose points to the ceiling. The jaw should drop open slightly.
  •  With your pilling hand, use your little finger and ring finger to open the cat’s mouth further by gently putting pressure on the lower lip and front teeth.
  •  Quickly place the pill as far back over the tongue as possible. Try to place it on the back one-third of the tongue to stimulate an automatic swallowing reflex.
  •  Close the cat’s mouth and hold it closed while you return the head to a normal position.
  •  Gently rub the cat’s nose or throat, or blow lightly on the nose. This should also help stimulate swallowing.
  •  If you have trouble with this method of opening the mouth, try placing the cat on an elevated table. Hold the cat by the scruff of the neck and lift the front paws off of the table. The mouth will drop open. Quickly place the pill as far back on the tongue as possible, as in the previous method.
  •  If you continue to experience difficulty, you may want to purchase a “pet piller” device or inquire if the medication can be compounded into a liquid. Most medications can be made into liquids with appealing flavors such as tuna, chicken, or salmon.

eye drops

  • Make sure you have carefully read the label and understand the instructions.
  •  Wash your hands before and after administering the medication to prevent the spread of infection. Gently clean the cat’s eyes with warm water and a washcloth prior to administering the eye drops.
  •  If you are administering the medication on your own, you may find it easiest to place your cat in your lap. It may be advisable to restrain your cat by wrapping it in a blanket or towel with only its head exposed. It may be helpful to have someone else hold your cat while you apply the drops.
  •  Hold the bottle using the thumb and index finger of your dominant hand with the tip pointed downwards. Be sure to keep the tip clean and do not allow it to contact the cat, the eye or any other surface. If this occurs, clean the tip by wiping it off with a clean cloth or ask your veterinarian for specific cleaning instructions.
  •  Use the last two fingers of the same hand to pull back the upper eyelid. Place your remaining fingers under the cat’s jaw to support the head. The lower eyelid will act as a pouch to receive the drops.
  •  Hold the bottle close to the eye but ensure you DO NOT touch the eye’s surface.
  •  Squeeze the prescribed number of drops onto the eyeball, aiming for the center of the eye, and then release the head.
  •  The cat will blink, spreading the medication over the surface of the eye.
 It is normal for your cat to blink or paw at the eye after administering the drops. If this persists or if the eye appears more inflamed or red after administration of the medication, consult with your veterinarian.

ear drops

  • Make sure you have carefully read the label and understand the dosing instructions and the amount of liquid you are to instill into the ear.
  •  Hold the cat securely in your lap. It may be advisable to restrain the cat by wrapping it in a blanket or towel with only its head exposed. The first few times, it may be helpful to have someone else hold the wrapped cat while you apply the drops.
  •  Draw up the liquid into the dropper, if necessary. Hold the applicator or bottle between the thumb and forefinger of your dominant hand.
  •  Use the last two fingers of the hand holding the dropper or bottle to hold the tip of the ear.
  •  Place your remaining hand under the cat’s jaw to support the head.
  •  Apply a small amount of medication into the ear canal. Be sure to place the tip as far into the ear canal as possible, unless the condition is confined to the outer portion of the ear.
  •  Gently massage the base of the ear in a circular motion. Be cautious and gentle. The cat may not allow you to do this.
  •  Release the ear and let your cat shake its head. If the medication contains a wax solvent, debris will be dissolved so it can be shaken out.
 Remember that the ear may be very painful and that your cat may respond by scratching or biting.

TOPICAL MEDICATIONS- CREAMS, OINTMENTS, LOTIONS

Creams are non-greasy, ointments have an oily base, and lotions are liquid preparations.  All are similar as far as application is concerned. Creams, ointments, and lotions are for external use only. It is important to prevent your pet from licking and swallowing them.  If necessary, you may need to use an Elizabethan collar to prevent this.

Be sure to follow any directions concerning application of the product, e.g. using gloves, etc. This is important since some veterinary preparations may be irritating to human skin.

Ask the Vet – Thanksgiving By Kristel Weaver, DVM, MPVM




Thanksgiving is a good time to acknowledge the people, pets and other things in our lives for which we are thankful!  I am thankful for my family, including the members with four legs.  I’m thankful they have a healthy appetite, are curious about their surroundings and are devoted companions.  It is these wonderful personality traits that lead them to the veterinary hospital for an unplanned visit on Thanksgiving.  To keep your pets healthy this holiday season I have come up with a few pieces of advice.

1.  Keep potential foreign bodies out of reach.   Anything an animal ingests, that is not digestible, is considered   a foreign body.  This includes the string used to tie the turkey legs, a large piece of bone or seasonal decorations (among many other things).  It often requires surgery to remove a foreign body from an animal’s intestinal tract.  String, or a linear foreign body, is especially damaging to the intestinal tract and can be life threatening.

2.  Do not give your pets rich or fatty foods.  Dogs and cats can get pancreatitis or gastroenteritis from eating greasy turkey skin, giblets or anything out of the ordinary, especially if they are not used to eating anything but their kibble.  They do not need your leftovers or a special holiday treat.  Ask your guests to refrain from feeding your pets as well.

3.  Keep your pet out of the holiday chaos.  Some animals love being the center of attention but can get underfoot and in the way.  Other animals just want to hide when the house is full of people.  Consider your pet’s temperament and find a solution that fits them individually.   For shy cats, make sure they have food, water and a litter box in a quiet bedroom.  For social dogs, provide them with a dog bed or blanket in a safe spot, so they can be nearby but not underfoot.

4.  Figure out which nearby veterinary hospitals are open for emergencies on Thanksgiving.  Hopefully if you are prepared for an emergency, you will not have one!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your pets, family and friends.  I hope my advice gets you through the holiday without a problem, giving you one more thing for which to be thankful!

Dr. Kristel Weaver is a graduate of the Veterinary School at the University of California, Davis where she received both a DVM and a Master’s of Preventative Veterinary Medicine (MPVM).  She has been at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care in San Ramon since 2007.  She currently lives in Oakland with her husband and their daughter, Hayley. If you have questions you would like Dr. Weaver to answer for future articles, please email info@webvets.com

Friday, November 4, 2011

Winners of the Halloween Spooktacular Pet Photo Contest 2011

For the first time ever, we have a tie!!! The winners of our Halloween Spookatcular Pet Photo contest are: 

Denny and May May the hunting dogs 
 and Evie as Joe Dirt! 
 
Congratulations on your awesome costumes Denny, May May, and Evie; they are very clever and original. Both winners will receive a 3 month supply of Frontline.

We had so many adorable and creative entries this year- really every pet that entered deserves an extra treat for being so patient and cute! Thank you to everyone who participated!

A Good Samaritan Saves the Day by Shann Ikezawa, DVM

This little guy was rescued by one of our clients, a good Samaritan who has been rescuing feral cats since the 90s. This kitten, only about 4 weeks old, became so constipated that he needed to be anesthetized, given enemas, and undergo a procedure called manual evacuation. Despite aggressive care and medication, he became constipated again 2 days later and had to undergo the same treatment. He may have a congenital condition called megacolon, in which the colon does not contract normally and stretches, causing recurrent episodes of constipation. 

We are happy to report that he is about to be discharged from the hospital and is doing very well. He is on several medications but he is eating well, growing, and defecating normally. We want to thank our wonderful clients like this one, whose dedication never fails to amaze us, and are hoping we can continue to be partners in providing a good quality of life long term to little guys like this one.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Canine Parvovirus

What is “parvo”?
Canine parvovirus (CPV) infection is a relatively new disease that appeared for the first time in dogs in 1978. Because of the severity of the disease and its rapid spread through the canine population, CPV has aroused a great deal of public interest. The virus that causes this disease is very similar to feline panleukopenia (feline distemper) and the two diseases are almost identical. Therefore, it has been speculated that the canine virus is a mutation of the feline virus. However, that has never been scientifically proven.

Are there different strains of canine parvovirus?

Two slightly different strains of canine parvovirus, named CPV-2a (1980) and CPV-2b (1984), are recognized. They cause the same disease and vaccines give protection against both. CPV-2b is associated with the most severe disease. A distinct type of parvovirus (CPV-1) has been found in pups with diarrhea and also in normal dogs. CPV-1 is not thought to be an important cause of disease.

How does a dog become infected with parvovirus?
The main source of the virus is from the feces of infected dogs. The virus begins to be shed just before clinical signs develop and continues for about ten days. Susceptible dogs become infected by ingesting the virus. Subsequently, the virus is carried to the intestine where it invades the intestinal wall and causes inflammation. Unlike most other viruses, CPV is stable in the environment and is resistant to the effects of heat, detergents, alcohol, and many disinfectants. A 1:30 bleach solution will destroy the infective virus. CPV has been recovered from surfaces contaminated with dog feces even after three months at room temperature. Due to its stability, the virus is easily transmitted via the hair or feet of infected dogs, contaminated shoes, clothes, and other objects or areas contaminated by infected feces. Direct contact between dogs is not required to spread the virus. Dogs that become infected with the virus and show clinical signs will usually become ill within six to ten days of the initial infection.

What are the clinical signs of parvo?
The clinical signs and symptoms of CPV disease can vary, but generally they include severe vomiting and diarrhea. The diarrhea often has a very strong smell, may contain lots of mucus and may or may not contain blood. Additionally, affected dogs often exhibit a lack of appetite, marked listlessness and depression, and fever. It is important to note that many dogs may not show every clinical sign, but vomiting and diarrhea are the most common and consistent signs; vomiting usually begins first. Parvo may affect dogs of all ages, but is most common in dogs less than one year of age. Young puppies less than five months of age are usually the most severely affected, and the most difficult to treat. Any unvaccinated puppy that has vomiting or diarrhea should be tested for CPV.

How is it diagnosed?
The clinical signs of CPV infection can mimic many other diseases that cause vomiting and diarrhea; consequently, the diagnosis of CPV is often a challenge for the veterinarian. The positive confirmation of CPV infection requires the demonstration of the virus or virus antigen in the stool, or the detection of anti-CPV antibodies in the blood serum. An in-house test performed on a stool sample is available as well.  Occasionally, a dog will have parvovirus but test negative for virus in the stool. Fortunately, this is an uncommon occurrence. A tentative diagnosis is often based on the presence of a reduced white blood cell count (leukopenia) and clinical signs. If further confirmation is needed, stool or blood can be submitted to a veterinary laboratory for additional tests. The absence of a leukopenia does not mean that the dog does not have CPV infection. Some dogs that become clinically ill may not have a low white blood cell count.

Can parvo be treated successfully?
There is no treatment to kill the virus once it infects the dog. However, the virus does not directly cause death; rather, it causes loss of the lining of the intestinal tract, and destroys some blood cell elements. The intestinal damage results in severe dehydration (water loss), electrolyte (sodium and potassium) imbalances, and infection in the bloodstream (septicemia). When the bacteria that normally live in the intestinal tract are able to get into the blood stream, it becomes more likely that the animal will die. The first step in treatment is to correct dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. This requires the administration of intravenous fluids containing electrolytes. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs are given to prevent or control septicemia. Antispasmodic drugs are used to inhibit the diarrhea and vomiting that perpetuate the problems.

What is the survival rate?
Most dogs with CPV infection recover if aggressive treatment is used and if therapy is begun before severe septicemia and dehydration occur. For reasons not fully understood, some breeds, notably the Rottweiler, Doberman pinscher and English springer spaniel, have a much higher fatality rate than other breeds.

Can parvo be prevented?
The best method of protecting your dog against CPV infection is proper vaccination. Puppies receive a parvo vaccination as part of their multiple-agent vaccine given at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age. In some situations, veterinarians may give the vaccine at two-week intervals with an additional booster at 18 to 22 weeks of age. After the initial series of vaccinations, all dogs should be given a booster vaccination at one year. Thereafter your veterinarian will discuss with you an appropriate schedule of revaccination. Adult dogs considered to be at low risk for contracting the disease may be vaccinated every two to three years. Your veterinarian and you should make the final decision about the vaccination schedule that best fits your pet’s lifestyle.

Is there a way to kill the virus in the environment?
The stability of the CPV in the environment makes it important to properly disinfect contaminated areas. This is best accomplished by cleaning food bowls, water bowls, and other contaminated items with a solution of 1/2 cup of chlorine bleach in one gallon of water (133 ml in 4 liters of water). It is important that chlorine bleach be used because most disinfectants, even those claiming to be effective against viruses, will not kill the canine parvovirus.

Does parvovirus pose a health risk for me?  How about for my cats?

It is important to note that there is no evidence to indicate that CPV is transmissible to cats or humans.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 925-866-8387 or email us at info@webvets.com.