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Parvo and Your Pup

parvoHearing that your precious pet has been diagnosed with a serious disease is the last thing a pet owner wants to hear. Parvo (canine parvovirus) is one such disease that affects puppies and adult dogs, and its consequences can be lasting and, in some cases, deadly. Indeed, your dog’s long-term wellness depends on his or her protection from parvo and other contagious diseases.

The Problem with Parvo

Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious disease that is spread either through contact with an infected dog or with a contaminated object, such as feces, food or water bowls, leashes, etc.. The virus infects the stomach and small intestine, where it destroys cells, impairs nutrient absorption, and interferes with the gut/blood barrier. Parvo can strike at any time of the year, but is most common during the spring and summer months.

Canine parvovirus was first discovered in the late 1970s. Thanks to international travel and the importation of animals, the disease spread rapidly across the globe. Because most dogs had no natural immunity, canine parvovirus had devastating results, especially for puppies.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Depression

Most deaths from parvo occur within 48-72 after symptoms first appear. If you notice any of the above symptoms in your puppy or dog, please contact us immediately.

Treating Parvo

There is no “cure” for canine parvovirus, so treatment is mainly supportive in nature. Helping a pet’s body stay strong enough to fight the infection is the goal, and consists of fluid and electrolyte replacement, control of vomiting and diarrhea, and preventing secondary infection.

Canine parvovirus is highly contagious, and infected dogs need to be quarantined to prevent or minimize the spread of the virus. If you suspect your dog has parvo, please let our staff know so proper precautions can be taken from the beginning.

Protecting Your Pet

Vaccinating your dog against canine parvovirus, along with hand washing and proper hygiene around dogs, are the best ways to protect your pet. All puppies should start vaccinations between 8 and 10 weeks of age and every 3-4 weeks until 18-20 weeks. Pet owners should continue to follow their veterinarian’s recommendations for parvo boosters throughout life as needed.

Pet owners should refrain from bringing puppies into areas where other dogs congregate, such as dog parks, pet stores, kennels, or groomers, until they are fully vaccinated. Puppies and adult dogs should be kept away from dogs known to be infected with parvo, and should never be allowed to investigate fecal waste while walking or playing outdoors.

If you have any questions about canine parvovirus, or any concerns about your puppy or adult dog, please contact the staff at Pet Medical Center and Spa.