Parvo What You Should Know

Parvo: What You Should Know

Parvo is every dog owner’s worst nightmare.  In a matter of days, a perfectly healthy puppy can go from playful and active to fatally ill.  Thankfully, parvo is a preventable disease.  However, all new puppy owners need to be aware of the risks of parvo, how to prevent it, and what to do if a puppy catches the virus.

Parvo is a highly contagious virus that is causes an infectious gastrointestinal (GI) illness in puppies and young dogs.  This virus can be deadly if left untreated.  You are probably wondering what makes this virus so dangerous.   It can be spread either by direct contact with an infected dog, or through feces, and an infected dog can begin shedding the virus four-to-five days after exposure.  The dogs will continue to shed the virus while they are sick, for up to 10 days after they have recovered.  This means that quarantine is essential for the health of the dog, and of other dogs as well.

Young dogs between six weeks and six months old, unvaccinated, or incompletely vaccinated dogs are most at risk for contracting parvo. German Shepherd Dogs, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, English Springer Spaniels, and American Staffordshire Terriers also have an increased risk of contracting the parvovirus, although scientists are not entirely sure why these dog breeds are at a higher risk than others. Puppies are born with antibodies from their mothers. As these antibodies fade, however, it is up to owners to make sure that the puppies receive a course of parvo vaccinations.

Parvo can be transmitted in two ways.  The first is by direct contact through the nose and mouth with infected feces, which can happen when a dog sniffs or licks a surface.  The second method of transmission is through indirect contact. The virus can survive on clothing, equipment, on human skin, and in the environment. Indirect transmission occurs when a puppy encounters a contaminated person, object, or environment.

It is important to note the symptoms of the parvo virus.  The most common symptoms include:

  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Anorexia
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Dehydration

If you suspect that your dog has parvo, they need immediate veterinary attention. Parvo is a potentially fatal virus that requires intensive care, and the sooner your canine is diagnosed the better. Your vet will most likely recommend hospitalizing your dog in an isolation ward, where they will offer supportive care and monitor your dog for secondary infections.