Home » Blog » The Two Forms of the Canine Parvovirus

The Canine Parvovirus, also known as CPV2, is a popular disease-causing pathogen that’s notorious for having life-threatening effects on dogs. However, most people are unaware that the Canine Parvovirus has two different forms: cardiac and intestinal. The cardiac form of the Canine Parvovirus is the less common of the two, and the intestinal form being more prevalent. In this article, we’re going to go through the differences between the two, what they do to a dog’s body, and how you can protect your dog from getting infected.

The Cardiac Form of the Canine Parvovirus

The cardiac form of the Canine Parvovirus is rare and mostly infects puppies while they’re still in their mother’s uterus or those under three months of age. That can happen when a female dog infected with the Canine Parvovirus, whether or not showing symptoms, becomes pregnant. The virus travels from the mother’s system to the growing puppies by crossing the placenta. By the time the female dog gives birth, the puppies will have already developed several abnormalities.

Since the virus targets the heart muscle, infected puppies usually die shortly after birth due to breathing difficulties caused by pulmonary edema—a condition that takes place when the heart is unable to pump and circulate blood properly. In some cases, the cardiac form of the Canine Parvovirus manages to damage not only the heart muscles, but also the brain, lungs, kidneys, and the blood vessel linings of their host.

The Intestinal Form of the Canine Parvovirus

The Two Forms of the Canine ParvovirusThe intestinal form of the Canine Parvovirus is more common. Dogs can pick it up through direct or indirect contact with contaminated feces, infected soil, or fomites carrying the virus. Once ingested or inhaled, the virus travels down to the throat to replicate itself in the lymphoid tissue, and then makes its way to the bloodstream. The virus will proceed to attack white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting infection in the body, weakening the body’s defense system. Then, it will begin to damage the intestinal glands, allowing the bacteria residing in the intestines to enter the bloodstream and cause sepsis—a life-threatening immune response that happens when bacteria get into the blood.

Dogs infected with the intestinal form of the Canine Parvovirus are very likely to experience intussusception, which is when a part of the intestine folds into another segment, causing intestinal blockage. After about four days, infected dogs can shed the virus through their feces for up to three weeks without showing any kind of symptom.

Canine Parvovirus Prevention

The Two Forms of the Canine ParvovirusLike many other highly virulent diseases, the only sure-fire way to prevent your dog from getting infected is through vaccination. The most appropriate time to get puppies vaccinated is when they’re about six to eight weeks old. They will then continue to receive booster shots every three to four weeks until they reach at least 16 weeks of age and once every two years afterward. Keep in mind that the puppies will remain extremely vulnerable to the virus before receiving the complete series of shots, so it’s best to refrain from taking them to public areas before then.

Puppies over 16 weeks of age will be given three rounds of shots every three to four weeks, and a booster shot one year after. Pregnant dogs, on the other hand, shouldn’t be vaccinated until they have given birth. The vaccine will cause abortion and make your dog feel very ill.

If you have a dog recovering from parvo, make sure to keep their surrounding areas clean and free from any traces of fecal matter. Always use bleach when cleaning after them to make sure the infection doesn’t spread. Dogs in recovery can continue to shed the virus through their feces and stay contagious for up to a month. So, if you have multiple dogs at home, keep your healthy dogs away until your sick pup has fully recovered and the Canine Parvovirus is completely out of their system.