So let’s talk about Parvovirus. It is a deadly, highly contagious virus that if left untreated attacks and kills the youngest of our canine patients, the puppies. Un-vaccinated dogs and puppies, younger than four months old, are at the greatest risk. Although there have been vaccines around for more than 40 years, we still see this virus around and it still kills puppies. It is fastidious, it attacks before the vaccine can take full effect. You should not take your puppy around other un-vaccinated dogs and to dog parks until they are fully vaccinated!
Dogs and puppies that contract Parvo are extremely ill. This virus attacks their GI tract. Signs that may alert you that your dog has Parvo include lethargy, loss of appetite, severe diarrhea, blood in stool, and vomiting. These symptoms will start mild and become severe. Severe dehydration occurs rapidly. It is important that you take your dog in right away to the veterinarian. Most deaths from Parvo occur between 48 to 72 hours after the initial symptoms occur.
There is no known drug that will kill the Parvovirus in infected dogs. This means supportive care is a must! These patients need hospitalization in an isolation ward and IV fluids to replenish and balance electrolytes and fluid loss. Other medications can be administered to help prevent secondary infections and help control the vomiting and diarrhea. This will help to keep your dog or puppy more comfortable.
Remember, this is a highly contagious virus! It is spread with direct contact from dog to dog by infected stool. It is also spread via contaminated environments and people. This means you must bleach water/food bowls, leashes, collars, kennels, and clean your clothing, hands, and shoes before handling any other pets! It is easily spread via contaminated objects, especially kennels and shoes.
Prognosis of Parvovirus is usually good if caught early; however, if left unnoticed and untreated death can occur quickly. The best way to prevent Parvovirus is to vaccinate your dogs and puppies, as well as cleaning bowls, toys, and leashes regularly. Also, know your parks and know the other pets your dog or puppy may come into contact with. Make sure they are regularly vaccinated. Ask your vet today about a vaccination schedule for your dog or puppy.