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Canine Parvovirus - What You Need to Know

Canine Parvovirus - What You Need to Know

Parvovirus is a deadly virus that is very contagious among dogs. It can spread easily through contact with infected dogs or items such as toys, bowls, or leashes. In this blog, our Tracy vets discuss everything you may need to know about parvovirus and how you can protect your beloved pup.

How Canine Parvovirus 'Parvo' Spreads

Parvovirus is an extremely contagious virus that could cause serious gastrointestinal symptoms in puppies as well as unvaccinated dogs of all ages. The virus is transmitted through traces of feces from dogs that have the infection. Infected dogs that are asymptomatic and haven't started showing any symptoms can spread Parvo, as well as dogs with pups with symptoms, and ones that have just recovered from the virus.

The virus is so contagious that someone who has unknowingly been in contact with an infected dog can spread the disease to puppies and other dogs just by touching them. This means that a loving pat on the head can be the beginning of a life-threatening illness.

Other common sources of contamination are leashes, bowls, toys, and bedding.

The Parvovirus season is at its peak in California in the warmer months of summer and fall. If you have a young puppy or unvaccinated dog you must call your vet immediately if they start exhibiting symptoms.

The Ways Parvovirus Attacks Your Dog's Body

Parvo is considered a disease of the stomach and small intestines. It is here that the virus starts destroying the barrier of your dog's gut by attacking healthy cells and blocking the absorption of essential nutrients.

In puppies Parvo also attacks the bone marrow and lymphopoietic tissues which have essential roles in your dog's immune system, then the virus will often affect the heart.

How Puppies Are More Susceptible to Parvo

If the mother is fully vaccinated against Parvo the puppies will inherit antibodies from the mother that will keep them safe against the virus during the first 6 weeks of their lives.

Although, as the puppies start to wean at about 6 weeks of age their immune systems become weaker and the young pups become susceptible to the disease.

Vets urge dog owners to start vaccinating their puppy against Parvo at 6 weeks of age when the puppy starts weaning and the antibodies from the mother are no longer there to keep them safe.

Although it isn't until the young pooch 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 Parvo.

Your puppy should get their parvovirus vaccines 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 protect the health of your new friend as well as the health of the other dogs in your home and neighborhood.

The Signs & Symptoms of Parvo in Dogs

It's imperative to understand that once your pooch starts showing symptoms they are already extremely ill. If you notice your puppy showing any of the symptoms below contact your vet immediately.

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

Treating Parvovirus

There is no cure for Parvovirus, although your vet will offer supportive treatments to help with symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. It's important that your pup gets enough hydration and nutrition in order to recover from Parvovirus.

Because secondary infections are common in puppies with Parvo (because of their weakened immune systems) your vet will monitor your puppy's ongoing condition and might prescribe antibiotics to help combat any bacterial infections that may start to arise.

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 generally takes approximately a week for dogs to recover from Parvo.

If your puppy is diagnosed with Canine Parvovirus you must take the proper steps to isolate them from other animals and always thoroughly wash your hands after being around your dog.

Ways You Can Prevent Parvo

Never let your puppy spend time around dogs that have not been fully vaccinated against Parvovirus. While socialization is important for young dogs it's essential to know that the dogs that your puppy spends time with are fully vaccinated and are not a health risk to your pooch. 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.

Contact our Tracy vets immediately if your unvaccinated dog or puppy is displaying signs of parvovirus. To learn more about this vaccine as well as the other vaccines and shots that can help keep your dog, cat, puppy, or kitten healthy visit the vaccinations page on our website.

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