Few conditions are more dangerous to the health of our canine companions than parvovirus. Today our Santa Cruz County vets explain how this highly contagious condition is spread, the symptoms to watch for, and how to safeguard your pup against this deadly virus.
The Threat of Parvovirus
Parvovirus (commonly called parvo) is an extremely serious, highly contagious, virus that causes severe gastrointestinal symptoms in puppies and unvaccinated dogs of all ages. Parvo is spread through traces of feces from infected dogs. Asymptomatic dogs that are infected but have not yet begun to exhibit symptoms are able to spread Parvo, as well as dogs with symptoms, and those that have recently recovered from the condition.
This condition is so infectious that a person who has unknowingly been in contact with an infected dog can pass the virus on to puppies and other dogs simply through touch. Meaning that a loving pat on the head could lead to the spread of a life-threatening illness.
But direct contact with infected dogs is not necessary in order for the disease to be transmitted. This virus can also be transmitted by touching contaminated leashes, bowls, toys, bedding and more.
How Parvovirus Attacks Your Puppy or Adult Dog's Body
Parvo is considered a disease of the stomach and small intestines. It is here that the virus begins destroying the dog's gut barrier by attacking healthy cells and blocking the absorption of essential nutrients.
In puppies Parvo also attacks the bone marrow and lymphopoietic tissues which play essential roles in your dog's immune system, then the virus will often affect the heart.
Puppies Face an Increased Risk From Parvo
If your puppy's mother is fully vaccinated against Parvo her puppies will inherit antibodies from her that will protect them against the virus for the first 6 weeks of their lives.
Nonetheless, at about 6 weeks as the puppies begin to wean, their immune systems will weaken and they become susceptible to Parvo and other diseases.
Vets urge all dog owners to begin vaccinating their puppy against Parvo at 6 weeks of age when the puppy begins to wean and the antibodies from the mother are no longer available to protect the puppy.
It is important to note that your puppy must receive all 3 Parvo vaccinations in order to be protected against this potentially deadly condition. The few weeks between weaning and full vaccination is when puppies are most likely to contact Parvo! We strongly recommend that you keep your puppy safely away from other dogs until they have received all of their vaccines.
When To Get Your Puppy Vaccinated Against Parvo
Your puppy should receive their vaccines against Parvovirus at 6, 8 and 12 weeks of age. If you are a pet parent, having your puppy vaccinated against Parvovirus is one of the best ways you can guard your four-legged friend's health and the health of other dogs in your household and neighborhood.
Symptoms of Parvo You Need To Be On The Lookout For
It is essential to understand that once your puppy begins showing symptoms they are already very sick with Parvo. If you notice that your puppy is displaying any of the following symptoms call your vet immediately.
- Bloody diarrhea
- Loss of Appetite
- Weight loss
Available Treatment for Pups with Parvo
There is no cure for Parvo in puppies, however your vet will offer supportive treatments to address symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. It is essential that your pup gets adequate hydration and nutrition in order to recover from Parvovirus.
Since secondary infections are common in puppies with Parvo (due to their weakened immune systems) your vet will be sure to monitor your puppy's ongoing condition and may prescribe antibiotics to help combat any bacterial infections that may begin to develop.
If your puppy or adult dog is being treated by a vet and survives the first four days after symptoms appear, there is a good chance that your dog will recover from the disease. It typically takes about a week for dogs to recover from Parvo.
If your puppy is diagnosed with Canine Parvovirus it is essential to take steps to isolate your puppy from other animals and always wash your hands thoroughly after being near your young dog.
Protect Your Four-Legged Friend Against Parvovirus
Never allow your puppy to spend time around dogs that have not been fully vaccinated against Parvovirus. While socialization is essential for young dogs it is important to know that the dogs that your puppy spends time with are fully vaccinated and do not pose a health risk to your pup. Talk to your vet about how best to protect your new four-legged family member.
Be sure to follow your vet's advice and have your puppy vaccinated against Parvo, rabies and other potentially serious conditions based on a puppy vaccination schedule for your area.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.