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VIRAL ENTERITIS IN DOGS
Viral enteritis is an inflammation of the intestinal tract caused by a virus. Viruses that cause enteritis include:
Some of these viruses cause severe life-threatening illness, while others cause only a mild digestive upset. The herpesvirus of dogs does not affect people.
Viral enteritis is easily transmitted to susceptible dogs. Puppies, aged dogs and those weakened by illness are most susceptible. Dogs become infected by swallowing the virus particles or by direct contact with infected feces, saliva or vomit. Viruses may be carried on clothing, shoes, feeding utensils and some insects and birds. Some of these viruses can survive several months in the environment.
These viruses attack the lining of the intestinal tract, destroying certain portions of the absorptive villi and thereby causing the characteristic signs of their disease entities:
Diagnosis is based on proving the presence of the offending viral organism in your pets intestinal tract. A rapid, in-house fecal test has been developed which provides an accurate testing means for parvoviral infections.
Blood tests are necessary to diagnose and monitor the response to treatment of viral enteritis.
Because dogs with viral enteritis cannot keep down oral medications and foods, hospitalization and intravenous fluid therapy are often necessary. Many veterinarians also administer the following medications during the treatment period:
Antibiotic Injection - to prevent the occurrence of secondary bacterial infections
Anti-emetic Injection - to prevent vomiting and the loss of vital fluids and electrolytes in the vomitus
Anti-diarrhea Medication - to prevent diarrhea and the
loss of vital fluids
Give all medication as directed. Call your veterinarian's office if you cannot give the medication.
It is very important to force your pet to drink as much liquid (Pedialyte or Gatorade) as possible. We recommend using a 60 ml syringe and dosing it every 1 to 2 hours. Your vet can show you how to administer the liquid and calculate an approximate amount.
Food should be withheld until your pet is holding down the liquids without vomiting.
Once food is introduced, it should be in the form of a very bland diet (boiled chicken and rice with no additives or Hill's Presciption i/d).
The prognosis varies greatly depending on the specific organism involved. Parvoviral infection is by far the most severe and deadly for your pet. The prognosis depends on the age of your pet, any history of vaccines, length of time before treatment is initiated and the treatment means pursued.
Typically, within three to five days of initiation of treatment
your veterinarian will have a good idea of whether or not your
pet will continue to improve and survive, or if the prognosis
All puppies should be started on a vaccination program at six weeks of age. They should be vaccinated every three weeks until approximately 21 weeks of age. Yearly vaccination for prevention of parvovirus and coronavirus is recommended.