Canine Parvovirus Prevention
Parvovirus prevention is critical for the care of a dog. Canine parvovirus is a deadly virus that attacks the gastrointestinal tracts of dogs and puppies, therefor the infection by the virus is life threatening and highly contagious for unvaccinated puppies and immunocompromised of unvaccinated adult dogs. Survival is not guaranteed once infected and is considered a serious illness. Although the infection can have severe and life threatening effects, the disease can be prevented with vaccinations.
Symptoms of Parvovirus infection include:
- Loss of appetite
- Severe, explosive and often bloody diarrhea
Parvovirus is spread when dogs come into contact with or ingest contaminated feces or vomit. Once a dog has parvovirus, most deaths take place within 48-72 hours of the appearance of symptoms.
Parvovirus does not just affect puppies but can affect dogs of all ages and breeds. However, it is more considerably more threatening to puppies younger than four months and unvaccinated dogs (AVMA).
Certain breeds can be more prone to contracting the virus such as Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Labrador retrievers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and German Shepherds (ASPCA).
When to visit a veterinarian
If your dog has any of the above symptoms, seek medical help from your veterinarian immediately.
Veterinarians can conduct a simple test to determine if the dog has parvovirus. If so, treatment can be started immediately and will help prevent it from spreading it to other dogs.
If tests are negative for parvovirus, such symptoms as diarrhea or vomiting could still indicate a serious health issue that requires immediate attention such as hookworm or a foreign body in the gastrointestinal tract.
How is canine parvovirus treated?
Since parvo is a virus, there is no specific treatment for the disease. Rather, your veterinarian can offer supportive care to take precautions. Supportive care can be expensive and is not always successful even with the best care. 5-10% of dogs infect are usually lost during the treatment care.
Treatments can include preventing dehydration, controlling vomiting and diarrhea and preventing secondary infections. Dogs will need to be hospitalized 5-7 days or more and the entire ordeal can sometimes be costly for owners.
The best thing to do is to protect your puppies and older dogs by vaccinating them with the parvovirus vaccine.
The vaccine immunizes the dogs and helps prevent the onset of this terrible scenario should the dog or puppy come into contact with parvo.
AAHA recommends puppies to receive vaccinations between six to eight weeks of age, ending between 14-16 weeks. Dogs should receive a booster shot a year after the initial series and be revaccinated every three years.
Other tips for preventing the spread of parvovirus
Take preventative measures to keep the dog safe from parvovirus if not fully vaccinated yet.
- Puppies five months of age and younger should be kept away from pet supply store floors, dog park grounds, and anywhere sick or recently adopted dogs might have been.
- Carry puppies across animal hospital floors and don't let them explore public spaces sniffing around.
- If you recently adopted a dog from an animal shelter or other source where she may have been exposed, keep her away from the adopted dog for a few weeks.
- If your dog is sick, do not go to public areas with your dog.
- Promptly dispose of your dog’s waste in a safe way.
- ASPCA recommends cleaning potentially contaminated surfaces and objects with household bleach in a 1:32 dilution, letting the bleach sit for 10 minutes on the surface before rinsing with water.
- Wash your hands and change your clothes right after handling a dog that is sick or could have been exposed to sickness.
- Do not expose your unvaccinated puppy or dog to places you are unsure about the vaccination history of the other dogs.