Pit Bull 101: Parvo

Parvo, or Canine Parvovirus, is a viral disease that attacks dogs and if left untreated, kills them within days, primarily due to dehydration. Parvo virus initially lodges and multiplies in the lymph nodes of the throat. Three or 4 days later it spreads to the bone marrow and gastro intestinal tract, which both contain rapidly multiplying cells, which is just what the virus needs. In the bone marrow it kills the young immune system cells, and because of this, a low white cell count is the first clinical sign of possible parvo virus infection. Having a low white cell count also means that the host cannot fight the infection. Simultaneously the parvo virus is attacking the gastro intestinal tract, killing the new cells of the intestine walls before they have a chance to grow. The result is an inability to absorb nutrients, causing acute diarrhea. The gastro-intestinal wall becomes so damaged and thin, that bleeding occurs, allowing bacterial infection to start. So parvo puppies can die from either severe dehydration and shock, or bacterial infection… or more commonly, both.