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Does Your Dog Have Parvo or Campylobacter?

Bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and a fever—classic signs of a Parvo infection, but are you sure that the Canine Parvovirus is the culprit? There are plenty of harmful pathogens that cause Parvo-like symptoms, and Campylobacter is one of them. Since misdiagnoses can and do happen, being familiar with the other possible causes of your pup’s illness is very important. Without a correct diagnosis, there wouldn’t be a successful treatment, and we all know that when it comes to infectious diseases, time is of the essence. So read on to learn how to identify whether or not your dog has Parvo or Campylobacter!


What’s Parvo?

Does Your Dog Have Parvo or Campylobacter?The Canine Parvovirus, Parvo for short, is a highly contagious virus that affects dogs and causes a disease that damages the gastrointestinal system and in rare cases, the heart. It’s incredibly tough and can persist in the environment for long periods, surviving several months up to a year if protected from direct sunlight. It’s also incredibly resistant to common household disinfectants and can remain infective indoors, at room temperature, for about two months. The only substance strong enough to kill the virus is bleach, which should be diluted in one gallon of water (1 part bleach, 32 parts water).

Dogs of all breeds and ages can contract Parvo, but unvaccinated puppies and adult dogs, as well as those with a weak immune system, are more susceptible. Infected canines shed the virus through their feces, saliva, blood, urine, vomit, and eye and nose discharge. Then, uninfected dogs can pick up the virus if they come into direct or indirect contact with contaminated objects and surfaces. It can even stick to human skin, clothing, or footwear and be carried from one place to another. In fact, humans are considered the main cause of the spread of the disease. That’s why it’s important to always wash your hands and disinfect any garment that’s potentially contaminated before handling your pet.


What’s Campylobacter?

Does Your Dog Have Parvo or Campylobacter?A Campylobacter infection, medically known as Campylobacteriosis, is caused by a bacterium called Campylobacter jejuni. Just like the Canine Parvovirus, it affects the gastrointestinal tract of infected dogs, usually leading to bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. However, it does so in a different manner. Parvo causes a thinning of the intestinal lining, while Campylobacter causes both the small and large intestines to inflame.

Dogs can contract Campylobacter when they come into contact with the feces of an infected pooch. They can pick it up by stepping on contaminated surfaces or chewing on contaminated objects, such as dog toys or blankets, and accidentally swallow it when they groom themselves. Campylobacter can cause health issues in dogs of all ages, but the infection is generally worse in puppies that are still growing and developing. Some infected adult dogs may not even show any signs of illness, but continue to shed the bacteria in their feces.


How Do I Tell Them Apart?

Does Your Dog Have Parvo or Campylobacter?If you have an adult dog that’s not yet vaccinated from Parvo and one day they develop a fever, followed by vomiting and diarrhea that may or may not have blood, it’s most likely a Parvo infection. However, if a puppy starts showing these signs, it becomes more difficult to figure out since puppies are more vulnerable to contracting both pathogens. The best way to go about either situation is to consult a veterinary professional. There are tests that can confirm a Parvo infection in adult dogs, and ones that can help determine whether your puppy has a viral or bacterial infection.

To identify a Parvo infection, veterinarians use a test called ELISA snap, which is proven to be 95% accurate. That means there’s a 5% chance of an incorrect diagnosis. However, follow-up tests are done to narrow everything down to one disease.

To spot a Campylobacter infection, on the other hand, a bacterial culture will be done and for that, you’ll be asked to provide a fresh sample of your pup’s feces. Normally, it takes about five days for the results to come out.


How Are They Treated?

Unfortunately, there’s currently no known cure for Parvo and the only thing that can help infected dogs recover is supportive care. It involves the administration of fluids combat dehydration, antibiotics to prevent secondary infections, antidiarrheals to manage loose bowels, and anti-emetics to control vomiting. Your veterinarian may also recommend supplements to boost the immune system and probiotics to help restore intestinal health.

Similar to Parvo, the treatment of Campylobacter infection includes antibiotics and supportive care. As of today, the antibiotic of choice for the illness is Erythromycin. However, it may cause vomiting and diarrhea, so your veterinarian may use other antibiotics, like Fluoroquinolones and Tetracyclines.


How Can Infection Be Prevented?

The best way to prevent Parvo is through vaccination, so if your dog hasn’t been vaccinated yet, make sure to do so as soon as possible. Parvo infections can be deadly, even with supportive treatment, so make sure that your dog is protected. In addition to that, you should also regularly clean your home environment and remove any urine or feces around your yard or under your porch. Wildlife, like raccoons, skunks, and squirrels, can get Parvo, too, and they can contaminate the areas around your home with their feces.

Like Parvo, dogs can pick up Campylobacter from feces-contaminated surfaces and objects. So, to keep your dog from contracting it, you should do routine cleaning both inside and outside your home. You should also disinfect your dog’s belongings (toys, food bowls, beddings, blankets) regularly using laundry detergent and hot water.


Has your dog ever contracted Parvo or Campylobacter?