Owning a dog is an incredibly rewarding experience. Although we wish dogs were always healthy and happy, unfortunately, just like humans they can get sick or hurt or catch a disease. Every new puppy owner or dog owner’s worst nightmare is the parvovirus. Parvo in dogs can come on quickly and be fatal. The good news is that parvovirus in dogs is preventable. It’s important to be aware of parvo symptoms and treatment in case your puppy catches it.
At Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, Arizona we recommend puppies get the parvo vaccine starting at 8 weeks of age. This is the number one way to prevent parvo in puppies.
The most important tool you have for preventing parvovirus in your dog is to understand it. Learn exactly what the parvovirus is, how dogs can become infected with the virus, symptoms, and parvo treatment below.
What Is Parvo (Canine Parvovirus)?
So what exactly is the parvovirus? The parvovirus, otherwise known as the CPV, is a highly contagious virus found mostly in puppies and young dogs. It is an infectious gastrointestinal (GI) illness that can be deadly without treatment. What makes the disease so dangerous is how easily and quickly it can be spread.
Although there are two strains of canine parvovirus, the same disease is caused by both and the same vaccine will give protection against both. The disease first appeared in dogs in 1978, not that long ago. It has generated a great deal of public interest because of the severity of the disease and how rapidly it spreads.
How Do Dogs Get Parvo?
Parvovirus can be spread in a few different ways. Either by direct contact with an infected dog or through feces. Once the virus is ingested, it is carried to the intestine where it invades the intestinal wall and will cause inflammation. Often before an infected dog has started displaying any sign of infection, he can start shedding the virus. The dog will continue to shed the virus while he is sick and for up to 10 days after he has recovered. Because of this, accurate diagnosis and quarantine are incredibly essential for the health of all dogs involved.
The parvovirus can survive indoors at normal room temperature for at least two months. It is resistant to many commonly used cleaners and disinfectants. One of the few disinfectants known to kill the virus is bleach. A solution of 3/4 cup of chlorine bleach in one gallon of water will disinfect contaminated items such as food and water bowls. Although there are disinfectants that claim to kill the canine parvovirus, they are not effective. It must be chlorine bleach. Even more alarming is that the parvovirus can survive for months, and even years, outdoors if it is protected from direct sunlight. This is why hospital quarantine of the infected dog and proper cleanup of the environment is especially important.
Symptoms of Parvo in Dogs
Young puppies less than 5 months of age are usually the most affected so it’s important to contact us at Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, AZ right away if you have a puppy that is exhibiting the two main symptoms which are severe vomiting and diarrhea. Often, diarrhea will have a very strong smell and may contain lots of mucus. It’s also possible diarrhea may or may not contain blood.
However, parvo can affect dogs of all ages so if you see these signs in an older, unvaccinated dog it will be important to get your dog tested for parvovirus immediately. Other symptoms can include depression and marked listlessness as well as a loss of appetite. If your dog displays any or all of the symptoms below it is important to contact us. even if your dog tests negative for parvo, exhibiting any of the following symptoms could be a sign of a different illness that needs to be treated:
- Severe, bloody diarrhea
- Weight loss
How To Treat Parvo in Canines
The best thing you can do if you suspect your dog has parvovirus is to bring him to the vet. Parvo treatment cost can vary depending on the severity of the case. The first step will be to get your dog tested and then quarantined if that is necessary. We will provide your dog with the supportive fluids, nutrition, and medications needed. In many parvo cases where supportive care is started promptly, we are able to save their lives..
The first step towards preventing the spread of this highly contagious disease is understanding it. Make sure your puppy gets vaccinated, starting at 6-8 weeks. We offer a puppy package that includes the DAPP vaccine. If your puppy hasn’t been vaccinated yet be sure to keep them in a safe environment. As much as you want to bring the puppy with you everywhere, it’s important for their safety that they stay in a safe environment until they’ve had all their vaccines. Training classes and daycare can wait!
When you have questions about your furry family members, the caring and experienced team at Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, are here to help. Our practice focuses on our pet patients’ health and wellbeing, incorporating behavioral health and traditional medicine to provide comprehensive and compassionate care. Our state-of-the-art animal wellness facility in Flagstaff, Arizona, is equipped for complete animal care, from vaccinations and routine wellness checks to behavior consultations, sick visits, and more. Contact us today to schedule a visit for your dog or puppy.