Both parvovirus and coronavirus are highly contagious diseases that infect dogs of all ages, although puppies are by far the most vulnerable. The severity of both diseases can range from very mild to life-threatening.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, parvovirus has two forms. The intestinal form of parvo--the most common--causes depression, lack of appetite, vomiting and foul-smelling--sometimes bloody--diarrhea. The cardiac form, which causes irregular heartbeat, primarily strikes nursing puppies, and can result in sudden death.
Coronavirus, like parvo, also causes diarrhea, loss of appetite and lethargy, but is much less likely to be fatal--most puppies recover after a few days. However, according to Claws and Paws Animal Hospital, if a puppy is infected with both coronavirus and parvovirus, the odds for survival plummet to 10 percent.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Both diseases are diagnosed by physical exam and fecal culture, and both are treated with IV fluids to prevent dehydration, medications to control vomiting and diarrhea, and antibiotics to prevent secondary infections. According to Dr. Mark Richard, D.V.M., 80 percent of puppies with parvovirus who receive prompt treatment can recover; without treatment, 80 percent will not survive.
Both viruses are transmitted through fecal matter of an infected dog. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, parvo is resistant to detergents, heat and cold, so it also can be transmitted indirectly through shoes, clothing and human hands.
Vaccinations for both parvo and corona are a must, with the first series of shots being given at around six weeks and the last at 12 to 14 weeks. Dogs should also have yearly booster shots.
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