Living Organisms

Some living organisms can be extremely harmful to your pet's health.

Canine distemper virus

Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) is a viral disease that infects the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and central nervous systems. Dogs who have not been vaccinated for Canine Distemper are the most at-risk. While the disease can also be contracted when improperly vaccinated or when a dog has high susceptibility to bacterial infection, these cases are rare.


CDV can be spread through direct contact (licking, breathing air, etc.) or indirect contact (bedding, toys, food bowls, etc.), though it cannot live on surfaces for very long. Inhaling the virus is the primary method of exposure. There is no known cure for CDV, and quick response to the disease greatly improves your pet’s chances at survival, especially for younger puppies. Because of its severity, we advise you to contact our office as soon as you notice something might be wrong.


Symptoms of Canine Distemper Virus:


CDV initially attacks the tonsils and lymph nodes, and symptoms can be unnoticeable for the first 6 to 9 days. Pay close attention to your pet for any of the following ailments, as they may indicate CDV:


  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Coughing
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Lack of interest in food
  • Lethargy and tiredness
  • Paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Thickening of the skin on feet and nose
  • Vomiting
  • Watery discharge excreted from eyes and nose


Diagnosing and treating CDV


There are a number of tests that can be performed to determine if your pet has CDV. The two most common types are biochemical tests and urine analysis. Biochemical tests will reveal if your dog has a reduced number of lymphocytes, and urine analysis will detect viral antigens. Together, they indicate that the body is fighting an infection and which infection it is likely fighting. If neurological damage is suspected, a CT scan or MRI might be warranted to determine whether any lesions have developed on the brain.


Once CDV has been diagnosed, treatment focuses on alleviating symptoms since there currently is not a cure for the disease. Most treatment plans differ because there are numerous strains of CDV, and every canine’s disease progresses differently. Treatment planning is conducted after a dog is evaluated, the strain they’ve contracted is verified, and their current status is determined. In managing your pet outside of the treatment provided by our veterinarian, it is important to monitor your dog for symptoms of dehydration or pneumonia:


  • Coughing
  • Depression
  • Dry mouth
  • Lethargy
  • Thick mucousy nasal discharge


It is entirely possible to recover from Canine Distemper Disease. Recovery is usually dependent upon the strength of the dog’s immune system and the strain of distemper they have contracted. It can take up to 2 months to fully recover. How quickly you respond to potential CDV symptoms also impacts your pet’s chances at survival. Studies show that canines vaccinated as many as 4 days after contracting the disease still receive immunity and can fully recover. We highly recommend seeking immediate veterinary attention after suspecting that your pet has come into contact with the disease.


If you have any questions about Canine Distemper or think your pet may have come into contact with the disease, please contact our office.

Canine parvovirus

Canine Parvovirus (CPV) is a contagious disease attacking cells that rapidly reproduce. It can occur at any age but is ordinarily seen in puppies around 6 to 20 weeks old. There are two types of CPV, intestinal and cardiac. Intestinal CPV is most common and is distinguished by diarrhea, decreased appetite, vomiting, and weight loss. Cardiac CPV is usually only seen in very young puppies and attacks their heart muscles, typically resulting in death. Vaccination is extremely important and can help prevent Canine Parvovirus. Certain breeds, namely Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers, are particularly susceptible to infection so extra caution should be taken.


CPV can be contracted directly or indirectly. Most dogs obtain the virus via fecal-oral contact. Heavy concentrations of Canine Parvovirus are excreted in an infected dog’s stools, so if a healthy dog sniffs or licks contaminated feces, it can contract the disease. Even indirect contact with fecal matter on an owner’s shoes can bring the disease into an environment. The virus is extremely resilient and can live in soil for up to one year, and it is resistant to weather changes and most cleaning products. If you suspect CPV to be present in your home, bleach is the only household disinfectant known to kill the virus. Should you bleach any surface your pet comes into contact with, be sure they are not present and do not ingest the bleach. Also, cats cannot contract parvovirus, but they can be carriers for it. If you have a household with multiple pets, it is important to be sure that one isn’t infecting another.


Possible symptoms of Canine Parvovirus:


  • Diarrhea (often containing blood)
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Coughing
  • Dry mouth
  • Lethargy


How is CPV diagnosed and treated?


Canine Parvovirus is diagnosed with a physical examination, biochemical tests, urine analysis, and X-rays and ultrasounds of the abdomen. When bringing your dog in for its exam, we might also ask for a brief history of the past few days’ activities and when you first noticed changes in your pet’s behavior.


CPV is a viral infection, and currently, there is no cure. Because the infection itself cannot be cured, treatment focuses on curing the symptoms it creates and preventing any secondary infection. Hospitalization is often necessary because of the frequentness and threatening nature of dehydration that is commonly associated with CPV. Most canines who face a life-threatening prognosis also suffer from dehydration. If it is not already occurring, the veterinarian might be able to prescribe medication that can lessen vomiting and reduce nausea, in an attempt to prevent dehydration. The survival rate for adult dogs diagnosed with Canine Parvovirus is high and is only slightly lower for puppies.


If you think your pet might have CPV, contact our office immediately so we can schedule an exam.

Feline immunodeficiency virus

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is comparable to AIDS in humans and is often found simultaneously occurring in cats with feline leukemia virus (FeLV). Similar to AIDS, FIV is present in blood, cerebrospinal fluid, and saliva. The most common transmission of the virus is through a cat fight or during pregnancy as an infected mother passes it to her offspring. In very rare cases, a cat may contract FIV through saliva. Feline immunodeficiency virus is a slowly progressing virus and cannot survive outside its host.


FIV is species-specific, meaning it cannot be acquired from another species, nor can it be passed to another species; it only occurs within cats. Male cats are almost twice as likely to acquire feline immunodeficiency virus, reflecting their propensity to roam as well as quarrel with other cats.


Common illnesses that may occur simultaneously:


  • Diarrhea
  • Eye disease
  • Fever
  • Neurological problems
  • Pneumonia
  • Sinus infection
  • Skin disease
  • Swollen lymph nodes


Diagnosing and treating FIV


The veterinarian can diagnose feline immunodeficiency virus using a blood test that can detect specific antibodies within the bloodstream. Likely, a second test will be performed called a Western Blot Test to confirm the diagnosis.


After a positive diagnosis is established, there is not much that can be done by means of treatment. Treatment is focused on keeping the cat indoors and away from other cats, preventing the pet from contracting secondary illness and acquiring any sort of infection. FIV-positive cats are capable of living somewhat normal lives when kept in good health and when FIV is detected in earlier stages.


Currently there is a non-core vaccine available for FIV; however, there is controversy surrounding the vaccine due to the fact that inoculated cats test positive with FIV because current FIV antibody tests cannot distinguish between the disease and the vaccination antibodies. Be sure to inform your veterinarian if your cat has obtained the FIV vaccine.


If you have any questions about feline immunodeficiency virus or the FIV vaccine, please contact our office.

Feline leukemia virus

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is responsible for the majority of household cat deaths. It affects all breeds, though it is more common in males and typically occurs in felines aged one to six years old. Outdoor cats and cats in multiple-cat environments are considered the most at-risk for contracting FeLV, a virus spread through warm fluids, such as nasal secretions, saliva, urine, or a mother’s milk. It can also be spread from a mother to her kittens while they are still in the womb. Grooming one-another and fighting tend to be the most common ways in which the virus spreads. Because feline leukemia cannot survive outside of a host, ordinary detergents, including bleach, successfully kill the virus on household surfaces.


The virus only affects cats and cannot be transmitted to humans, dogs, or any other animal. Through immunosuppression, FeLV impairs the affected cat’s immune system and is capable of causing a variety of diseases such as liver disease and intestinal disease as well as certain types of cancer. Because of their impaired immune system, cats with FeLV are also highly susceptible to various general infections.


It should be noted that there is a vaccination available for FeLV, though it is considered a non-core vaccine. Veterinarians usually suggest the vaccination for outdoor cats or cats in multiple-cat households. Please inquire about the vaccination if you consider your cat to be at-risk, as FeLV is often fatal.


What are the symptoms of FeLV?


  • Avoiding litter box
  • Bladder infection
  • Diarrhea
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Seizures
  • Skin lesions which may or may not be infected
  • Tumors
  • Uneven pupils
  • Weight loss
  • Wiry, coarse coat
  • Wobbly gait


Diagnosing and treating FeLV


The process of diagnosis for FeLV is fairly simple. A blood test called an ELISA can positively identify the FeLV protein within the blood, making an accurate diagnosis within our veterinary clinic possible. The ELISA test is so perceptive to these proteins that it can identify FeLV infections soon after a pet contracts the illness, even if they have not begun showing symptoms. In FeLV cases that have progressed, an IFA test can confirm the findings of an ELISA test. IFA tests are sent to commercial laboratories for completion. Cats with positive results to an IFA test are unlikely to cure themselves and usually have unfavorable prognosis. Urinalysis and bone marrow biopsy may also be used to aid in diagnosis.


Because there is no known cure for feline leukemia, there is no specific treatment. Numerous therapies have been researched and are currently being studied with no conclusive results. Current treatment includes spaying or neutering an infected cat and keeping them indoors, away from other cats. This protects other cats from becoming infected, as well as protecting your cat from developing any disease or illness they may come into contact with.


Efforts to prolong life include feeding your pet a nutritious diet, preventing exposure to disease, reducing stress levels, controlling parasites, and aggressive treatment of any secondary illness. Generally, FeLV is eventually fatal so ensuring your pet a comfortable lifestyle should be a primary concern.


If you believe your pet has contracted FeLV or you have any questions about the virus, feel free to contact our office at your earliest convenience.

Feline panleukopenia virus

Feline panleukopenia (FPV), also known as feline distemper, is a viral infection among cats that is caused by parvovirus. Similar to parvovirus, it is extremely resilient and can survive on nearly any surface and for extensive periods of time. FPV is highly contagious and often fatal. While it is not contagious for humans or dogs, ferrets can spread the disease to and can obtain the disease from cats. Panleukopenia is spread through contact with an infected animal’s bodily waste, body fluid, bed, or dishes. Pet owners can also carry the disease on their clothing and shoes.


FPV harms a cat by depleting their white blood cell count, leaving them susceptible to secondary infection; and attacks the lining of their gastrointestinal tract, causing internal inflammation, pain, and bleeding. The disease is entirely preventable with regular vaccination. Mothering cats can also spread the virus to their unborn kittens; therefore, it is highly recommended that pregnant cats are routinely vaccinated to prevent spreading FPV to their offspring.


If you have any questions about vaccination scheduling or would like to schedule a booster vaccine for your cat, contact our office today!


Symptoms of feline panleukopenia virus


  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Severe dehydration
  • Tail-biting
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss


If your cat exhibits any of the aforementioned symptoms, please contact our office immediately, as it may indicate a life-threatening illness.


How is feline panleukopenia treated?


Upon bringing your pet in, the veterinarian will first perform a thorough physical exam to properly diagnose FPV. A Complete Blood Cell Count test will be completed, along with testing on a fecal specimen (when possible). The blood sample will indicate a drop in white blood cell count, suggesting panleukopenia, while the specimen can register traces of the FPV virus.


Because there is not a cure for panleukopenia, treatment is focused on supporting the side effects until the virus subsides, much like treating a human cold. Administering fluids to prevent dehydration, inoculating antibiotics to prevent systemic infection, and providing supplementary medications to curb diarrhea and vomiting are all possible therapies. In most cases, successful veterinary care of FPV patients involves 24/7 in-patient care.


Remember, FPV can be prevented with a proper vaccination regimen. Please consider pet vaccination before it is too late.

Rabies

Rabies is an often fatal viral infection that is transferred when a pet comes into contact with an infected host. Most often, exposure occurs through contact with affected wildlife, namely bats, coyotes, foxes, or skunks. A rabid animal could bite another or make contact with an existing wound, resulting in an infection; transmission can also occur when an animal makes contact with infected saliva through the eyes or mouth. Being that the virus is zoonotic, humans are capable of contracting rabies from their pets.


A rabies vaccination is currently required by law in every state; however, exemptions do exist in 15 states. An exemption can be obtained for various reasons, including if the pet owner plans on keeping their pet in isolation or if a serious medical issue proves the vaccination would cause more harm than good. In most cases, veterinarians strongly recommend a rabies vaccination for all mammalian pets, and booster shots are required every one to three years.


Symptoms that a pet has rabies


There are several different phases during which a rabid pet will exhibit symptoms of rabies: the prodromal phase, the furious phase, and the paralytic phase. The furious phase most commonly occurs among cats, and the paralytic phase can occur either after the prodromal or furious phase. It can take up to eight weeks for noticeable symptoms to appear; however, a pet can become contagious up to ten days prior.


Prodromal phase:


  • Bouts of irritability
  • Fever
  • Nervousness
  • Shyness
  • Solitude

Furious phase:


  • Biting
  • Disorientation
  • Increased sensitivity to sound and light
  • Irritability
  • Possible viciousness
  • Restlessness
  • Seizures


Paralytic phase:


  • Eventual respiratory failure
  • Facial paralysis
  • Inability to swallow
  • Increased salivation
  • Labored breathing


What do I do if my pet is exposed to rabies?


Rabies is impossible to positively diagnose in a living animal or human. In order to definitively determine whether a pet has the virus, the brain tissue must be examined; therefore, tests are not conducted until a pet has passed on.


If you suspect that your pet has been exposed to a rabid animal, call the veterinarian immediately. Also, be sure to report the incident to your local health department and animal control center, and listen to their recommendations. If you must handle your pet, be sure to do so cautiously, as the virus can live on a pet’s skin for a few hours. Preventative measures, including wearing gloves and protective clothing, are the best way to prevent self-exposure to the virus.


Pets that are up-to-date on their vaccinations and have been bitten will be immediately administered with another vaccination and should be closely monitored by their owners for the next 45 days. If a pet is not vaccinated, euthanasia is highly recommended. If a pet owner is against euthanasia, it is possible to keep the pet in isolation for a 6 month period (usually at a pound or shelter), administering a vaccination immediately and again after 28 days. In these instances, it is rare that the pet will survive, but it still remains an option. If a vaccination has lapsed, public health officials will determine what action to take based on how past-due a pet is, the pet’s overall health, and how severe the exposure was.


If you have any questions about rabies or preventative measures you can take for your pet, please contact our office.

Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that occurs most frequently in mild to tropical climates. Reported cases of contracting the disease are more common during late summer and fall, after heavy rainfalls. Cases are far less common in winter months due to the fact that the bacteria cannot survive freezing temperatures. Dry heat kills the bacteria, but it thrives in stagnant water, alkaline conditions, dampness, and mud. While some areas of the country are more apt to this kind of weather, others are not, thus the leptospirosis vaccine remains a non-core vaccine.


Most pets contract the disease when they come into contact with a body of water that is infected with the bacteria, such as a puddle, rainwater, or drain. Other known methods of transmitting the infection include physical contact with saliva, feces, or the infected animal itself. The disease spreads via bodily fluids, through the bloodstream, and usually gets flushed into the kidneys where it often remains and reproduces, infecting the urine. Here it spreads to other animals that come into contact with the infected animal’s waste. The severity of the infection depends on the strength of an animal’s immune system. Younger animals with less developed immune systems are at a much higher risk of death when contracting leptospirosis. Pets that are the most at-risk for contracting the infection are hunting dogs, pets that live in wooded areas, pets that live on farms, or pets who live with other animals.

 

Because there is a vaccine for leptospirosis and any pet could come into contact with the disease at some point, we do recommend getting your pet vaccinated, especially pets who live in high-risk areas or pets who have contracted the disease once before. Leptospirosis is zoonotic, which means it can spread between infected humans or animals to others.


If you have any questions about the infection or would like to make an appointment for vaccination, please contact our office.


Indications your pet might have leptospirosis:


  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Excessive drooling
  • Fever
  • Increased thirst
  • Jaundice
  • Muscle tenderness
  • Red colored urine
  • Runny nose
  • Shivering
  • Vomiting


Pet owners will start to notice signs of a fever within 4-12 days of exposure to the bacteria. We recommend contacting our office at the first indication that something might be wrong. Like most infections, leptospirosis is easily managed when first contracted but can cause more damage the longer it remains in the body; it is also contagious for humans and other household pets.


While there are over 213 strains of leptospirosis, only 8 can infect humans and dogs, and 5 can infect cats. This table shows you the various strains that are contagious to humans and domestic pets, the primary sources the bacteria can be developed from, and other known sources from which you or your pets might obtain the disease:


How is leptospirosis diagnosed?


During your pet’s exam the veterinarian will ask you to describe the symptoms that led you to believe your pet was ill. If a leptospirosis diagnosis is positive, this information will give us a good indication of the progression of the infection and will aide in combating the bacteria. Urine and blood samples will be taken and cultured to determine if any bacteria is present, and the body’s immune system response to infection will be tested by measuring antibodies in the bloodstream; this will help determine the level of infection.


Diagnosing leptospirosis is always done cautiously. Because humans can contract the bacteria from pets, our vets and technicians handle these cases with extreme caution, and we advise pet owners to also take extreme caution when handling a potential case of leptospirosis. Any bodily fluid is a biohazard and needs to be disposed of properly to avoid contamination of oneself, other pets, and wildlife.


Treating leptospirosis


Most pets diagnosed with leptospirosis need to be in isolation to prevent spreading infection to owners and other animals. For severe infection that has progressed beyond the early stages, hemorrhaging and dehydration may have started occurring which will require hospitalization. If a pet comes to our facility with either of these symptoms, they will need 24-hour care and observation until their condition improves.


Leptospirosis is treated with antibiotics for a period of four weeks or longer, depending on the stage of the bacterial infection. During the period that your pet is being medicated, they should remain under close observation and be checked for any negative reaction to prescribed medications. The prognosis for most pets is positive when severe organ damage has not yet occurred. If you notice any changes in your pet’s behavior while taking medication, contact our office immediately.

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is caused by exposure to a spirochete bacteria (double-membrane, asexual bacteria that is cylindrically shaped). Infection carrying ticks spread Lyme disease to pets, generally canines, by attaching to the pet and feeding on their blood for an extended period of time. This bite transmits the bacteria from the tick to the pet. Ticks that carry Lyme disease are most common in specific geographic areas - the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and upper Midwest regions; they also thrive in temperatures above freezing, so more cases are reported during the months of March through October. After feeding on an animal’s blood supply for several hours, it can take weeks to months for the bacteria to self-replicate and travel through the bloodstream and embed itself in muscles, joints, tendons, the heart, and lymph nodes.


Some pet breeds can develop a fatal type of Lyme disease that specifically attacks their kidneys. Because Lyme disease can be fatal if left untreated, we recommend contacting the veterinarian when you first notice something might be wrong with your pet. For pet owners who live in high-risk areas, vaccination is highly recommended.


Symptoms of Lyme disease in domestic pets:


  • Decreased appetite
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Hesitant to get up from resting position
  • Hesitant to run, jump, or walk
  • Lethargy
  • Limping on one leg then shifting to another
  • Occasional or permanent inability to bear weight on a limb
  • Swollen, painful joints
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss


How is Lyme disease treated?


Lyme disease is often extremely difficult to detect. When the veterinarian suspects a patient to have contracted the bacteria, its blood will be tested. It takes most animals 1 to 5 months to exhibit symptoms of an infection after becoming contaminated, if they show outwardly signs at all. Often, pet owners bring in their animal to address another issue; after blood tests are conducted, they are surprised to learn their pet has Lyme disease.


Once your pet has been diagnosed with Lyme disease, it can be treated with oral antibiotics that are administered daily for a period of 4 weeks. If the disease has progressed to the point of causing kidney damage, more powerful antibiotics might be necessary, and hospitalization can be required. Reoccurrence can happen, though it is rare. In these instances, the disease is managed with antibiotics for an extended period of time.


Please contact our office if you would like more information on the dangers of Lyme disease or if you wish to schedule a vaccination appointment.

Fleas, mites and ticks

Parasites are common among pets, especially dogs and cats that are allowed to roam outdoors. Various parasites can be native to a location, affecting pets throughout diverse times of the year. Pet owners should take note of the parasites common within their locale and observe their pets during the seasons they are most prone to infection.


Fleas


The most common flea is the Ctenocephalides Felix, more commonly known as the cat flea, though there are various other types. This particular type of flea is capable of hosting on humans, cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, rats, mice, guinea pigs, ferrets, and birds. These fleas rapidly reproduce and are capable of quickly infesting an entire household with both humans and pets as their hosts. If one pet has fleas, all pets within the household must be treated.


Fleas survive by ingesting the blood of their hosts. When they bite the host’s flesh, their saliva irritates the skin, causing the host to itch which in turn, may cause an allergic reaction. To determine if your pet has fleas, comb a section of hair on their back, towards a white piece of paper. If black flecks, resembling dirt, fall onto the paper, gently drop a very small amount of water onto the paper. If the black flecks begin to turn a rust-colored red, your pet has fleas. The rust hue is resultant of the blood being sucked out of your pet. If nothing comes off of your pet when brushed, or if the black flecks remain black, your pet is healthy.


Household inhabitants with fleas may experience:


  • Anemia
  • Mild to severe scratching
  • Open sores
  • Pet owners experiencing flea bites


Treatment for fleas


If one pet in the household has fleas, all household inhabitants should be treated. Treatment can include either a shampoo or a topical treatment. Shampoos will kill fleas for a few days, whereas topical creams or gels will kill fleas for a few weeks. We recommend using topical treatments for a more thorough solution. If you would like recommendations when choosing a flea preventative, contact our veterinary office, and we would be happy to assist you in selecting a superior product for your pet.


Mites


Similar to numerous other parasites, mites exist in multiple forms. The ear mite is the most common type of mite among cats and dogs and frequently causes feline ear disease. Most mites are barely visible, forcing veterinarians to use a microscope to detect them on a pet and to determine the specific type. Most often, a pet contracts mites from another pet or from another pet’s bedding. Some mites, including scabies, are contagious to humans, while others, such as mange, are not.


Symptoms that a pet has mites:


  • Crusty rash around ears
  • Dark, waxy or crusty ear discharge
  • Hair loss from excessive scratching
  • Head shaking
  • Large blood blisters around ears
  • Patches of scaliness
  • Scratching


Treatment for mites


After the veterinarian has determined the type of mite bothering your pet through a microscope evaluation, they will determine the best form of treatment. Some mites can be treated with topical medications or oral medication; others are best handled with a medicated bath or dip. Some types of mites cannot be cured, but with the appropriate medication, the condition can be kept under control.


Ticks


There is no question that pets are curious beings, often wandering into every shrub or bush they can squeeze through. In certain geographical areas, this roaming can cause a pet to acquire ticks. More common in dogs than cats, ticks attach themselves to a pet’s neck, ears, or skin folds. The bites can cause irritation, spread disease, and can eventually cause anemia.


If you live in an area prone to tick infestation, be sure to periodically examine your pet after walks or after they have roamed for long periods outside.


What do I do if my pet has a tick?


Promptly removing a tick upon discovering one is the easiest way to prevent disease transmission. To remove a tick, carefully grip the tick with tweezers as close to the pet’s skin as possible. Firmly pull the tick away from the skin while holding the tweezers tightly closed. After removing the tick, crush it, but avoid contact with the innards, as they could be carrying disease. If you do not pull the tick off just right, the head can remain attached and will continue to infect your pet, so it is critical that you remove the tick in its entirety.


During tick season, try using a tick preventative to reduce your pet’s chances of acquiring ticks, especially if taking your pet through heavily infested areas when hiking or camping.


If you are unfamiliar with tick removal or feel unconfident removing your pet’s tick on your own, contact the veterinarian, and they can remove the tick for you.

Hookworm, Roundworm, Tapeworm, and Whipworm

Feline panleukopenia (FPV), also known as feline distemper, is a viral infection among cats that is caused by parvovirus. Similar to parvovirus, it is extremely resilient and can survive on nearly any surface and for extensive periods of time. FPV is highly contagious and often fatal. While it is not contagious for humans or dogs, ferrets can spread the disease to and can obtain the disease from cats. Panleukopenia is spread through contact with an infected animal’s bodily waste, body fluid, bed, or dishes. Pet owners can also carry the disease on their clothing and shoes.


FPV harms a cat by depleting their white blood cell count, leaving them susceptible to secondary infection; and attacks the lining of their gastrointestinal tract, causing internal inflammation, pain, and bleeding. The disease is entirely preventable with regular vaccination. Mothering cats can also spread the virus to their unborn kittens; therefore, it is highly recommended that pregnant cats are routinely vaccinated to prevent spreading FPV to their offspring.


If you have any questions about vaccination scheduling or would like to schedule a booster vaccine for your cat, contact our office today!


Symptoms of feline panleukopenia virus


  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Severe dehydration
  • Tail-biting
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss


If your cat exhibits any of the aforementioned symptoms, please contact our office immediately, as it may indicate a life-threatening illness.


How is feline panleukopenia treated?


Upon bringing your pet in, the veterinarian will first perform a thorough physical exam to properly diagnose FPV. A Complete Blood Cell Count test will be completed, along with testing on a fecal specimen (when possible). The blood sample will indicate a drop in white blood cell count, suggesting panleukopenia, while the specimen can register traces of the FPV virus.


Because there is not a cure for panleukopenia, treatment is focused on supporting the side effects until the virus subsides, much like treating a human cold. Administering fluids to prevent dehydration, inoculating antibiotics to prevent systemic infection, and providing supplementary medications to curb diarrhea and vomiting are all possible therapies. In most cases, successful veterinary care of FPV patients involves 24/7 in-patient care.


Remember, FPV can be prevented with a proper vaccination regimen. Please consider pet vaccination before it is too late.