Canine parvovirus or parvo is a highly contagious virus that can affect all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than four months old are the most at risk. The virus affects dogs’ gastrointestinal tracts and is spread by direct dog to dog contact and contact of contaminated feces environments. The virus can also contaminate food and water bowls, collars and leashes, and the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs. It is resistant to heat, cold, and can survive in the environment for long periods of time. Even trace amounts of feces from an infected dog may harbor the virus and infect other dogs that come into the infected environment. The virus is readily transmitted from place to place on the hair or feet of dogs or contaminated cages, shoes, or other objects.
Signs of Parvo
Some of the signs of parvovirus include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, and severe and often bloody diarrhea. Persistent vomiting and diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration and damage to the intestines and immune system can cause septic shock.
If your puppy or dog shows any of these signs, you should seek veterinary care immediately
Most deaths from parvo occur within 48 to 72 hours following the onset of clinical signs. If your puppy or dog shows any of these signs, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
Diagnosis and treatment
No specific drug is available that will kill the virus in infected dogs, and treatment is intended to support the dog’s body systems until the dog’s immune system can fight off the viral infection. Treatment should be started immediately and consists primarily of intensive care efforts to combat dehydration by replacing electrolyte, protein and fluid losses, controlling vomiting and diarrhea. When a dog develops parvo, treatment can be very expensive and the dog may die despite aggressive treatment. Early detection and aggressive treatment are very important in successful outcomes. With proper care and treatment.
Parvo is highly contagious. Keeping infected dogs separated from other unvaccinated dogs and puppies is necessary to minimize spread of infection. Proper cleaning and disinfection of affected areas where infected dogs are or have been is essential to control the spread of parvo. The virus is not easily killed so talk to your veterinarian.
Preventing parvoviral infection
Vaccination and good hygiene are critical components of prevention.
Puppies are very susceptible to parvovirus, because the natural immunity provided by their mothers may wear off before the puppies own immune systems kicks in to fight off infection. This means even vaccinated puppies with immature immune systems may occasionally be infected by parvovirus and develop disease. To reduce gaps in protection and provide the best protection against parvovirus during the first few months, puppies should receive multiple parvo vaccine boosters and receive a final booster once the immune system is mature.
To protect their adult dogs, pet owners should be sure that their dog’s parvo vaccination current.
Until a puppy has received its complete series of vaccinations, pet owners should use caution when taking their pet to places where puppies are pet shops, parks, puppy classes, doggy daycare, and grooming establishments. Reputable establishments and training programs reduce exposure risk by requiring vaccinations.