Every new puppy owner's worst nightmare is bringing home a new furry friend and watching it suffer from parvo within just a few weeks. This virus can turn a pup from playful to fatally ill in just days. Thankfully, this virus can be prevented.
Spring and Fall are considered "Parvo Season" in the world of veterinary medicine. This infectious, gastrointestinal virus can be picked up by those canines that are not fully vaccinated, have never been vaccinated, or puppies just weaned and starting out without their full antibodies on board. Part of what makes this virus so dangerous as well, is that it can be passed so easily from pup to pup, and without treatment, can be deadly.
How can my dog catch the virus?
The parvovirus can be easily transferred either by direct contact with an infected pet or through feces. It is known for being extraordinarily hardy and having a long life even without a host. Parvo can live on the soil for anywhere from nine months to a year. For surfaces like fabric and carpet, the virus can last 6 months or longer. Humid and shaded areas are the ideal environment. Cleaning with bleach, on items that can be, will help kill parvovirus.
When walking in an infected area, parvo can stick to the bottom of our shoes, care tires or pet's paws and carry the virus home to our environment. A healthy pet can either ingest infected feces, or lick their paws after walking through an infected area.
What are the clinical signs of parvovirus?
Every owner should know the signs to look for with parvo. Here are some common signs of the virus:
If you start to see any of these signs, we recommend contacting your local veterinarian as soon as possible. Catching the virus early can help your pet have the chance at recovery.
How can I help prevent against the virus?
As noted above, non-vaccinated dogs, or those puppies between 6 weeks to 6 months that have not yet completed their vaccine boosters, are at the highest risk. Therefore, vaccinating your pet is the first big step toward prevention. We also recommend that, during the vaccinating period, you keep your puppy or older dog away from other pets, or allow only interaction with other vaccinated pets in the safe environment of your own home. Puppies need parvo boosters every 3-4 weeks between the ages of 6 weeks to 16 weeks. If your pet is already older than 16 weeks, and has not yet been vaccinated, then he or she will need at least two boosters for the vaccine to take effect in the body.
If my pet gets parvo, what does treatment look like?
If your pet shows clinical signs of parvovirus, your veterinarian will run an antigen test or blood work to check. If diagnosis is positive, your vet will offer supportive care for your pet's symptoms to help him or her fight the illness. There is no cure for parvo. Because the virus will lower your canines immune system and white blood cell count, as the virus causes damage to the dogs intestinal wall, secondary infection can occur. So, helping your pet fight those secondary infections and keeping your pet hydrated, with medications on board to help fight, is his or her best chance. Your veterinarian will walk through the appropriate steps at your initial appointment. But knowing the signs and catching it early will help your pet toward recovery.
Prevention is the best route of care, especially in the case of parvovirus. Please consult with your local veterinarian today on starting your puppy's vaccine boosters today. Let's keep those canines healthy and smiling!