Parvovirus is a very contagious and life-threatening condition in dogs. In this blog, our Kinston vets share the symptoms of parvovirus and explain how it can be prevented.
How Canine Parvovirus 'Parvo' Spreads
Parvovirus (also called parvo) is a highly contagious virus that causes extreme gastrointestinal symptoms in puppies and unvaccinated dogs of all ages. The virus is transmitted through traces of feces from dogs that are infected, even dogs that are asymptomatic and aren't exhibiting any symptoms can spread Parvo just as easily as dogs that have symptoms, or have recently recovered from it.
Parvo is so infectious that humans can spread it unknowingly to other dogs if they have recently come into contact with an infected pup, just by touching them. This means an innocent pat on the head could result in a life-threatening condition.
Other common causes of contamination include sharing toys, bowls, bedding, and leashes.
Spring is when parvovirus season is at its peak. If you are the loving owner of a young puppy you have to call your vet immediately if your pooch is exhibiting any signs of Parvo.
The Ways Parvovirus Attacks Your Dog's Body
Parvo can be characterized as a disease of the small intestines and stomach. This is where the virus starts to destroy the barrier of a dog's gut by blocking the absorption of essential nutrients and attacking healthy cells.
In puppies, Parvo also attacks the lymphopoietic tissues and bone marrow that are essential parts of your dog's immune system, then the virus often goes on to affect the heart.
Why Puppies Are Susceptible to Parvo
If a mother is fully vaccinated against Parvo her puppies will inherit antibodies from the mother that will protect them from the virus during the first 6 weeks of their lives.
However, as the puppies reach the 6-week old mark, their immune systems will start to weaken and the young pups become susceptible to the illness.
Our vets at Five Oaks Animal Hospital encourage pet owners to start vaccinating their puppies against Parvo at 6 weeks old when the puppy begins to wean and the antibodies from the mother, that are no longer there to protect the puppy.
But, dogs aren't completely protected until they have received all 3 Parvo vaccinations. The gap of time between weaning and full vaccination is when puppies have the highest risk of becoming infected with Parvo.
Your puppy should get their Parvovirus vaccines at 6, 8, and 12 weeks of age. If you are a pet owner, having your puppy vaccinated against Parvovirus is one of the best ways you can protect the health of your new friend and the health of the other dogs in your home and neighborhood.
What Are the Symptoms of Parvovirus in Dogs?
It's critical to know that once your dog starts displaying symptoms, they are already very sick. If your puppy or adult dog is exhibiting any of the symptoms listed below contact your vet immediately.
- Weight loss
- Loss of Appetite
- Bloody diarrhea
Treating Parvovirus in Dogs
There is no cure for Parvo in puppies, however, your vet will offer supportive treatments to address symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. It's critical that your pup gets enough hydration and nutrition to recover from Parvovirus.
Because secondary infections are common in puppies with Parvo (due to their weakened immune systems) your vet will monitor your pup's ongoing condition and might prescribe antibiotics to help fight any bacterial infections that could start developing.
If your dog is being treated by a veterinarian and lives through the first four days after they start showing symptoms, there is a good chance that they will recover from the disease. It can take approximately a week for dogs to recover from Parvo.
If your vet diagnoses your dog with Canine Parvovirus you have to take the necessary steps to isolate them from other animals and always thoroughly wash your hands after being near your pup.
How to Prevent Parvovirus
Don't allow your puppy to go around other dogs that aren't fully vaccinated against Parvovirus. While it's important to allow your young pooch to socialize with other dogs, it's essential to know if the dogs your puppy spends time with are fully vaccinated and aren't a risk to the health of your pup.
Remember to carefully follow your vet's advice and have your puppy vaccinated against Parvo, rabies, and other potentially serious conditions based on the puppy vaccination schedule for your area.
The Stages of ParvovirusSo you can get a better understanding of parvovirus and the information we have detailed above, our team has listed the 6 stages of canine parvovirus:
- Exposure: Your puppy or unvaccinated dog is exposed to the virus through contact with infected feces, and can start spreading the condition to other pups.
- Incubation: During the first three to five days after your dog has been exposed to the virus they won't exhibit any symptoms.
- Symptoms appear: Five to eight days after being infected, your pooch will start developing symptoms.
- A diagnosis from a veterinarian: Your veterinarian diagnoses your pooch with Parvovirus. The sooner your pup is diagnosed the better odds they have to survive.
- Treatment: If your dog's treatment starts early (examples of treatment are medications, IV fluids, antibiotics) they have a higher chance of surviving.
- Recovery: It can take fourteen to twenty days for a puppy or adult dog to fully recover from parvovirus. You need to make sure your dog is eating and drinking enough and that they remain isolated until they are no longer infectious.