Canine parvovirus, also known as parvo, is a deadly, highly contagious disease easily prevented through vaccination. Vaccination is virtually 100% effective in protecting your pet against this deadly disease. Puppies who are not vaccinated and exposed to the parvovirus have a poor prognosis. Parvo is transmitted through direct contact with an infected dog or through exposure to contaminated feces or vomit. Most cases of parvo occur in puppies who are between six weeks and six months of age.
The symptoms of parvo include bloody diarrhea, severe vomiting, dehydration, lethargy and loss of appetite. There are two forms of parvo. The most common is intestinal with symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and lack of appetite. The extremely rare form of parvo is cardiac in nature and occurs when the virus attacks the heart muscle of fetuses and very young puppies often leading to death. When exposed to the parvovirus, a puppy’s body is unable to absorb nutrients which causes dehydration, weakness and often death.
Parvo is spread through contaminated feces of infected dogs. This can occur through direct dog to dog contact as well as contact with contaminated surfaces, environments and people. Parvo is extremely contagious and easily transmitted. It can remain in an infected environment for some time. In the case of contaminated soil, the virus can survive for years. Parvo is resistant to most cleaning products. Any inside area or surface exposed to parvo must undergo a thorough cleaning process using a concentrated household bleach solution.
There is no cure for parvo. Treatment is quite intensive. An infected dog’s body systems are supported until their immune system is strong enough to fight against the viral infection.
Aggressive treatment should begin immediately. Intensive care including intravenous fluids with electrolytes is administered. If aggressive and prompt treatment is administered before septicemia and dehydration occur, most dogs can recover. Certain breeds including Doberman Pinscher, English Springer Spaniel and Rottweiler suffer higher fatality rates. Puppies who show no sign of improvement after three or four days of treatment have a poor prognosis.
The best way to prevent this deadly disease is through vaccination. A parvovirus vaccination is included in the series of vaccines recommended at six to eight weeks then every three weeks until at least 16 weeks of age. Booster shots are required annually. Shelters and high risk facilities with a high density of dogs will begin vaccines at two to four weeks of age. Talk with your veterinarian to determine the vaccination schedule that best protects your pet.
If you have any concern your pet has been exposed to parvo, bring him to any one of our PetWellClinic locations listed at the bottom of the page. No appointment necessary just walk right in for immediate assistance. If hospitalization is not affordable, the next best thing is PetWellClinic’s outpatient therapy. Please bring your pet in immediately so we can make a definitive diagnosis and discuss treatment options.