Our Veterinary Medical Center has seen parvo cases come through its doors on an almost daily basis in recent weeks. Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease that is most likely to affect young puppies and unvaccinated dogs. It’s very important to take precautions to prevent the disease and to respond immediately if your dog starts to show any symptoms.
Here is what you should know:
- Young puppies are at the highest risk of parvo because the natural immunity they receive from their mothers’ milk may wear off before their own immune systems can fight off infection and before they are fully vaccinated. Puppies should receive their first vaccination against parvo around 6 to 8 weeks old, then boosters every 3 to 4 weeks after. A puppy is not fully vaccinated until it receives its third booster, around the time it is at least 4 months old. Until then, it is not safe to bring your puppy to public areas such as parks, where they can easily be exposed to other dogs and parvo in the environment.
- Your adult dog should remain up-to-date on vaccinations as well. The DHPP booster vaccinates against parvo as well as distemper, hepatitis and parainfluenza.
- Parvo is not only spread through direct contact with an infected dog or with contaminated feces but also through any objects that have come into contact with the virus – from water bowls to tennis shoes. It’s not a virus that dies easily outside of the body and can contaminate an environment for up to 13 years.
- Parvo affects a dog’s gastrointestinal tract. Early signs include lethargy; loss of appetite; fever or low body temperature; vomiting; and severe, often bloody, diarrhea. See a veterinarian immediately if your dog exhibits these symptoms – early, intensive treatment greatly increases the chance of survival. Though there is no cure for parvo, treatment can combat dehydration, control vomiting and diarrhea, and prevent secondary infections. You can read more from the American Veterinary Medical Association here.