Research Article: Long-term effects of canine parvovirus infection in dogs

Date Published: March 16, 2018

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Elena Kilian, Jan S. Suchodolski, Katrin Hartmann, Ralf S. Mueller, Gerhard Wess, Stefan Unterer, Jianming Qiu.


Canine parvovirus (CPV) is the most important viral cause of acute canine enteritis leading to severe damage of the intestinal barrier. It has been speculated that dogs might develop chronic disorders after surviving CPV infection. However, no studies regarding the long-term implications of CPV infection have been published to date. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether dogs that have survived CPV infection will have an increased risk for developing chronic gastroenteritis, atopic dermatitis, or cardiac disease.

Dogs that had been treated at the Clinic of Small Animal Medicine, LMU Munich, for CPV infection for which a follow-up of at least 12 months was available, were included in the study. Owners completed a questionnaire on the presence of chronic gastrointestinal and cutaneous signs, cardiac disease, and other potential disorders. An identical questionnaire was sent to owners of matched control dogs during the same time period. Seventy-one questionnaires of dogs with CPV infection and 67 of control dogs were analyzed. Significantly more CPV-infected dogs (30/71) compared to control dogs (8/67) had developed chronic gastrointestinal signs later in their lives (P < 0.001). No significant differences were observed regarding skin diseases (P = 1), cardiac problems (P = 0.160), or any other diseases (P = 0.173) later in life. Results of this study suggest that dogs that survive CPV infection have a significantly higher risk (odds ratio = 5.33) for developing a chronic gastrointestinal disease. Further prospective studies to identify the trigger for the development of chronic diarrhoea and possible targeted treatment strategies are needed.

Partial Text

Canine parvovirus (CPV) represents a common viral cause of acute enteritis in dogs [1–3]. As parvoviruses require cells with a high proliferation rate for replication they have a high affinity for the small intestine, bone marrow, and lymphatic tissues [4]. In puppies, CPV can also affect myocardial cells during the time of high cell turnover rate from the time of intrauterine development until up to the age of about two weeks [5, 6] leading to acute heart failure frequently resulting in sudden death within the first eight weeks of life [7–9]. Structural changes in myocardial tissue have been detected in puppies surviving acute CPV infection [7], however their clinical consequence is unclear. In the intestine, characteristic histologic findings of parvovirus enteritis include necrosis of the intestinal crypt epithelium, shortening or obliteration of villi, and dilation of intestinal crypts with necrotic cellular debris [2]. These changes as well as the haemorrhagic diarrhoea seen in these dogs are associated with destruction of the intestinal barrier. An intact intestinal barrier is crucial for the development and stimulation of the immune system and establishment of oral tolerance. Severe destruction of the intestinal barrier might lead to a higher risk for immunological diseases later in life [10].

The present study showed a significantly higher prevalence of chronic gastrointestinal signs in dogs that survived prior CPV infection. No evidence for a higher prevalence of cardiac or skin diseases or other severe illnesses was observed.

Dogs have a significantly higher risk of developing chronic gastrointestinal problems when having survived a clinical manifestation of CPV infection as puppy. However, the general risk for any other chronic diseases does not appear to be increased.




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