Parvovirus is a highly contagious often deadly virus that is spread between dogs through contact with infected dogs or contaminated objects such as bowls or toys. Below our Ankeny vets share the facts you need to know about parvovirus in dogs.
The Spread of Canine Parvovirus 'Parvo'
Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes extreme gastrointestinal symptoms in puppies and unvaccinated dogs of all ages. The virus 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.
The disease 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 become the start of a life-threatening illness.
Other common sources of contamination are leashes, bowls, toys, and bedding.
How Parvovirus Attacks Your 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.
Why Puppies Are Susceptible to Parvo
If the mother is fully vaccinated against Parvo the puppies will inherit antibodies from the mother which will protect them against the virus for the first 6 weeks of their lives.
However, as the puppies begin to wean at about 6 weeks of age that their immune systems weaken and the young pups become susceptible to the disease.
Vets urge pet parents 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.
However it isn't until the young dog has received all 3 Parvo vaccinations that they will be protected against the disease. It is during the gap between weaning and full vaccination that puppies are most likely to catch to 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 the health of your new companion and the health of other dogs in your household and neighborhood.
Symptoms of Parvo
It is essential to understand that once your puppy begins showing symptoms they are already very ill. If you notice that your puppy is displaying any of the following symptoms contact your vet immediately.
- Bloody diarrhea
- Loss of Appetite
- Weight loss
Treatment for Parvovirus in Puppies
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 four-legged friend is being treated by a veterinarian and survives the first four days after symptoms appear, there is a good chance that your puppy 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.
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.