Parvovirus is a dangerous virus that easily spreads among dogs. It can be transmitted through direct contact with infected dogs or by coming into contact with objects like toys or bedding that have been contaminated. Puppies are especially vulnerable to this virus. In this article, our veterinarians at Turlock explain the transmission of parvovirus and share helpful tips to prevent its spread.
How is canine parvovirus spread?
Parvovirus is a very contagious virus that causes severe gastrointestinal symptoms in puppies and unvaccinated dogs of all ages. It spreads through traces of infected dogs' feces. Dogs can transmit this virus before showing symptoms or even after they have recovered. It's possible for dogs to carry the virus without displaying any symptoms and still pass it on to others.
People who come into contact with dogs infected with parvovirus can unintentionally spread it to other dogs.
Other common sources of contamination include leashes, bowls, toys, and bedding.
How does parvovirus attack your dog's body?
Parvovirus targets a dog's stomach and small intestines, causing damage to the gut barrier and preventing the absorption of important nutrients.
In young dogs, parvo also affects the bone marrow and lymphopoietic tissues, which are crucial for the immune system. Occasionally, it can also impact the heart.
Why are puppies susceptible to parvo?
If the mother dog is vaccinated against parvovirus, the puppies will receive antibodies from her and be immune to parvovirus for about the first 6 weeks of their lives. However, as the puppies start to eat solid food and stop relying on their mother's milk, their immune systems become weaker and they become vulnerable to the disease.
That's why veterinarians strongly advise puppy owners to start vaccinating their puppies against parvovirus when they reach 6 weeks old. At this age, the antibodies received from the mother are no longer effective in protecting them.
It's only after receiving all 3 recommended parvovirus vaccines that a young dog will be fully protected against the disease. The period between weaning and complete vaccination is when puppies are most likely to contract parvovirus.
What are the symptoms of parvovirus in a dog?
It is essential to understand that once your dog begins showing symptoms they are already very ill. If you notice that your dog is displaying any of the following symptoms contact your vet immediately:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Loss of Appetite
- Weight loss
Treatment for Parvovirus in Dogs
Parvo in dogs doesn't have a cure, but your vet will provide supportive treatments to address symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. Ensuring that your pup gets enough fluids and proper nutrition is crucial for their recovery from parvovirus.
Puppies with parvo often experience secondary infections due to their weakened immune systems. Your vet will closely monitor your puppy's condition and may prescribe antibiotics to fight bacterial infections that may develop.
If your dog is receiving veterinary treatment and survives the first four days of symptoms, there's a good chance they will recover from the disease. Typically, it takes about a week for dogs to fully recover from Parvo.
If your dog is diagnosed with canine parvovirus, it's important to isolate them from other animals and thoroughly wash your hands after being near your dog.
How can I prevent parvo?
Parvovirus vaccines are the most effective way to prevent the virus. Until your puppy is fully vaccinated, avoid letting them spend time with dogs that haven't received full parvovirus vaccination.
While it's important for young dogs to socialize, make sure the dogs your puppy interacts with are fully vaccinated and don't pose a health risk.
Consult your vet for guidance on how to protect your new four-legged family member.
Remember to follow your vet's advice and get your dog vaccinated for parvo, rabies, and other potentially serious conditions according to the recommended vaccination schedule in your area.