Canine Parvovirus – Vaccination versus antibody testing.

rotator-photo-bA lot of people are asking us about cases of parvo in this area  and what  they can do to try to prevent their pet getting it. Vaccination and antibody titre testing are ways to try to reduce the risk. Please read below to find out more about this….

The best protection against parvovirus is vaccination. The timing of vaccination is critical to ensure a good immune response. We recommend vaccination at 8 and 12 weeks to maximise the chances of success. We are concerned about the efficacy of some early finish vaccination protocols so strongly advise second vaccination is not given until 11-12 weeks.

One of the reasons for the early vaccination protocols is to encourage early socialisation of pups. We strongly recommend early socialisation but believe it can be done in a safe and effective way before the vaccination course is completed. Please give us a call if you wish to discuss this.

The first booster vaccination 12 months after the initial course is also vital to produce solid immunity. Then we recommend parvo vaccination every 3 years but other components of the vaccine need to be done yearly.

An alternative to vaccination is blood testing for antibody levels. There are some concerns with antibody testing. Firstly, antibodies are only part of the immune response. Another very important part of the immune system is cell mediated immunity which cannot be tested for but is very important in the face of viral infections. Therefore, antibody testing does not guarantee safety against infection. Secondly, knowing exactly the correct levels of antibodies that confer immunity in the face of infection is debatable.

Despite the above issues, antibody titre reading can be useful but has always been very expensive. However, new in house kits have brought the cost down so we are now able to offer antibody testing for £29.00.

In summary, we would still recommend vaccination as the best way to protect your dog against parvovirus. It has stood the test of time and we believe still offers the most reliable protection. However, if you chose not to vaccinate your dog or want added peace of mind that your vaccinated dog is protected cost effective antibody testing is now available.

Please call us now if you are worried whether your pet’s vaccinations are up to date or if you would like a titre antibody test.

Canine Parvovirus (CPV) – Part 2 – Lola Newton vs Parvovirus

Lola Newton – a good news story of a pup we treated in September 2013 with Parvovirus.

Her owners story by Hayley Newton…………….

I woke up on the Saturday and realised Lola wasn’t her normal self. My boyfriend was put on dog watch during the day keeping me updated on how she was. He phoned me at 1pm on the Saturday worried that she was still not herself. That is when I made the phone call to Cherrydown vets. I spoke to Sarah Lacey told her Lolas symptoms and she made the call that she needed to come in. If Sarah hadn’t of recommended Lola to come in she probably wouldn’t be here today.

lola3I came into the clinic with Lola and met Chris the vet. He was very worried about Lola as she is only a puppy and she wasn’t acting how a normal puppy should. He gave her a thorough look over and decided she needed to stay in for further tests.

At every point through the diagnostic stage I was informed by Chris. Even when Chris went on annual leave he told me that Jonathan was now going to look after Lola.

Lola was treated like a baby and everyone soon fell in love with her. It was like a roller-coaster ride one moment she was up then rapidly spiralled downhill. The one phone call I dreaded was made by Jonathan asking me what he wanted me to do with Lola as she was really poorly. He suggested that we could carry on with the treatment as she wasn’t in pain or I could end the treatment. I couldn’t give up on Lola at this stage and my boyfriend was still hopeful that she would get better. My boyfriend made the decision to carry on with the treatment and little did we know at that point that it was the right thing to do.

Joanne Barnes the new receptionist got very attached to Lola and made a fuss of her at every opportunity. The other veterinary nurses also made Lola feel important and loved. The smallest improvement that Lola made we were informed. The nurses got excited when Lola ate the smallest piece of white fish!!

The diagnosis soon came through and Lola had got parva. Where she is still so young, Jonathan, was unsure what damage may have been caused internally.

She soon became one of the Cherrydown family and when it was time for her to come home it was the best phone call that we could have got.

We would both like to say a massive thank you to all of the team at Cherrydown vets for saving our Lolas life and not giving up on her. She is now a happy little lively puppy and is doing better each day.

The Vets Story………

Lola presented to Cherrydown Vets Limited as an emergency on Saturday afternoon. Christopher Mortemore was duty vet The owners had noted that she was very quiet and off her food. Lola had not been vomiting or passing diarrhoea.

lola4Although Lola’s symptoms were vague, Chris was very concerned about her. Therefore, he admitted her for 24 hour observation and ran some initial diagnostic tests. He also put her on an IV drip as she was not eating and drinking. X-rays on Saturday evening revealed slightly a slightly gassy abdomen and Chris was concerned that this may indicate a gut obstruction, although the signs were not typical. To be on the safe side, he emailed the images to senior vet Jonathan. He was happy there was no obstruction visible on the X-rays and advised Chris that supportive care was the best way to go until further symptoms became evident.  During the initial 24 hours in hospital Lola deteriorated. She started vomiting and passing bloody diarrhoea. Faecal samples were collected but, as Lola had been fully vaccinated, parvovirus was not considered the most likely diagnosis.

Despite strong drugs to stop her vomiting, Lola continued to struggle. She was under intensive 24hour monitoring and the nurses worked tirelessly to look after her. Even though she was vomiting we had to get nutrition inside her as she was so young.So every couple of hours she was syringe fed small amounts of high energy liquid food. She was on constant IV fluids, a multitude of different drugs and regular monitoring blood tests to check her electrolyte levels. During the next two days Lola’s condition failed to improve and the prognosis became worse by the day. On Tuesday morning, the decision was taken by Jonathan to add in additional drugs that we would not usually use for puppies due to the risks but at this stage we had nothing to lose.  Later on Tuesday, the faecal results arrived and the diagnosis of Parvovirus with secondary coccidiosis was confirmed. The diagnosis surprised everyone. There was nothing additional that could be given at this stage and all everybody could do was hope and continue the intensive supportive care

Suddenly by Wednesday, Lola started to improve. Her vomiting stopped and she even started showing interest in food. Thankfully, her recovery then gathered pace and , although the prognosis was still guarded, medications could slowly be stopped. By the following weekend she was on oral medication only and was able to be discharged one week after admittance. She continues to make excellent progress especially her singing voice that she perfected on her last couple of days in hospital!

Canine Parvovirus (CPV) – Part 1

CPV came to the fore during the 1970’s with an epidemic that killed thousands of dogs. More recently CPV has generally been kept to isolated pockets due to vaccination and better knowledge of the virus. CPV is highly contagious and can spread quickly between dogs if steps are not taken to reduce the risks.

CPV is generally transmitted through direct or indirect contact with an infected animal’s faeces. The virus affects the intestines and is shed in large quantities in the animal’s stools often for many weeks after the virus has been detected and the animal treated. The stools can also be infected even before the animal starts to show signs and symptoms of having the virus. The virus can be carried on the animals coat or paws and also on people’s shoes where they come into contact with infected faeces.

CPV affects dogs of all ages but those most at risk are in the 6 to 20 week age group. Up to the age of 6 weeks pups have a degree of protection from their mother’s antibodies (if they were vaccinated against it)but this reduces over time. It is therefore very important to consult your vet at an early age to ensure pups receive the vaccination to protect them.

What are the signs of CPV?

lola1Infected dogs usually start to show signs 4-7 days after infection. The initial signs are listlessness, anorexia and vomitting.  The dog will also likely have diarrhoea which will be particularly smelly and may have traces of blood in it from where the lining of the intestines is being attacked by the virus. The dog will experience abdominal pain and dehydration will follow due to the dog refusing to drink and losing fluids. Without treatment the dog will rapidly deteriorate and bacterial infections, ulcers and other conditions can make the situation worse. There is a high mortality rate in dogs that contract the virus even where they quickly receive good veterinary care.

What will my vet do?

Your vet will be able to diagnose CPV from the conditions you describe, the condition of the dog and from blood and faecal tests that can be performed.

Your vet will almost certainly hospitalise your dog immediately to administer fluids to reduce the dehydration. Antibiotics will be introduced to reduce bacterial diseases and other drugs given to try to stop the vomitting and diahorrea. There is no specific treatment for the virus and treatment is supportive to try to keep the dog’s systems in balance.

 Will treatment be successful?

The virus can be fatal in upto about 90% of pups. Early diagnosis and treatment will improve the chance of survival but the fatality rate is still high. Those with maternal antibodies or that have started vaccination will also be better protected against the full effect of the virus.

lola2What should owners do?

If your dog shows any of the symptoms of CPV then you need to see your vet straight away. The dog should be kept isolated and a thorough cleansing of the area or cage will be required once they have been admitted into hospital. The virus can last for 5 months or longer on objects that have come into contact with infected faeces. Objects such as cages, food/water bowls floors and leads can harbour the virus. There are special detergents that can be purchased and your vet can advise on these. Bedding etc should be washed at high temperature.

Prevention of CPV

The best way to prevent CPV is through vaccination. The best time to vaccinate is when the pup has lost the majority of it’s mother’s antibodies (these prevent active vaccination) and this can vary from pup to pup. There is debate as to when the vaccination should be given but we recommend first vaccination at 8 weeks and the second one at 12 weeks of age. There is a move towards early vaccination finish in puppies with some vaccines licensed to finish at 10 weeks of age. WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS VACCINATION PROTOCOL AT CHERRYDOWNVETS LIMITED as we are concerned that this will leave some pups lacking immunity. One of the reasons the 10 week finish has been promoted is to enable early socialisation of puppies. There is no reason why a puppy cannot be safely socialised and still be better protected by vaccinations finishing at 12 weeks. Pups that have not completed their vaccination course should be prevented from exposure to possible infected animals. At Cherrydown we recommend that owners carry their pups while at our premises to reduce risk of exposure to disease before they are fully vaccinated.

Can other species be infected?

There are various strains of Canine Parvovirus and most will infect dogs, wolves and foxes. Cats are infected by feline panleucopaenia (feline enteritis) which is similar to Canine Parvovirus. It is not infectious to humans but good hygiene should always be exercised when handling animals and this is especially so if the animal is thought to have any kind of disease.

In Part 2 we tell the tale of Lola Newton pictured above who fought the odds to survive parvovirus at Cherrydown Vets in September 2013.