When getting a new puppy one of the main concerns is canine parvovirus. Many people have a lot of questions about parvo and how to prevent it in their new puppy. Below are our answers to our most frequently asked questions about parvo.
What is Parvo
Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious virus. It causes an infectious gastrointestinal illness. Parvo is mostly seen in puppies and unvaccinated dogs. Without treatment, it is potentially deadly. Part of what makes the virus so dangerous is the ease with which it is spreads.
How is Parvo Transmitted
The virus is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated stool, environments, or people. The virus can also contaminate kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, and the hands and clothing of people. Parvo can survive in the environment for years. Even trace amounts of feces from an infected dog can infect other dogs. The virus is also easily transmitted from place to place on the hair or feet of dogs or by contaminated cages, shoes, or other objects.
Signs and Symptoms of Parvo
Some of the signs of parvovirus include vomiting, diarrhea (often bloody), lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, fever or low body temperature (hypothermia). Vomiting and diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration. Damage to the intestines and immune system can cause septic shock.
Diagnosis of Parvo
Parvovirus infection is often suspected based on the dog’s history and physical examination. Fecal testing can confirm the diagnosis. The test takes about 10 minutes.
Treatment of Parvo
There is no cure for canine parvovirus. Treatment is intended to support the dog until the it’s immune system can fight off the virus. Treatment is mainly intensive care efforts to combat dehydration by replacing electrolyte, protein and fluid losses. Also, controlling vomiting and diarrhea, and preventing secondary infections. When a dog develops parvo, treatment can be very expensive. Unfortunately, the dog may die despite aggressive treatment.
Early recognition and aggressive treatment are critical for a successful outcome. With proper treatment, survival rates can approach 90%. Once a puppy has symptoms of parvo, if left untreated they can die within 48 – 72 hours. Without proper treatment, the mortality rate is as high as 91%.
Prevention of Parvo – Vaccines
Vaccination and good hygiene are critical to prevention. It is critical to adhere to your veterinarians recommended vaccination schedule.
Young puppies are very susceptible to infection. Puppies exposed to canine parvovirus before being completely vaccinated, will likely become ill. Even vaccinated puppies may occasionally be infected by parvovirus and develop disease. To reduce provide the best protection against parvovirus, puppies are given a series of puppy vaccines.
Until a puppy has received its complete series of vaccines, you should use caution when bringing your pet to places where there have been other dogs. Pet stores, parks, puppy classes, doggy daycare, kennels, and groomers are examples. Do not let your puppy or adult dog to come into contact with the feces of other dogs while walking or playing outdoors.
To protect their adult dogs, pet owners should be sure that their dog’s parvovirus vaccine is up-to-date. Ask your veterinarian about a recommended prevention program for your adult dog.
Prevention of Parvo – Isolation and Hygiene
Dogs with vomiting or diarrhea should not be taken to kennels, dog parks, or other areas where they will come into contact with other dogs. Similarly, dogs that have been exposed to sick dogs should be kept at home. Unvaccinated dogs should not be exposed to sick dogs or dogs with unknown vaccine histories. People who are in contact with sick or exposed dogs should avoid touching other dogs.
Since parvovirus is highly contagious. Isolation of infected dogs is necessary to minimize spread of infection. Proper cleaning and disinfection of contaminated kennels and other areas where infected dogs have been is essential. The virus is not easily killed. Consult your veterinarian for specific guidance on cleaning and disinfecting agents.
We hope this answered your parvo frequently asked questions.