What Every Owner Needs to Know about Parvo in Dogs
It’s every new dog owner’s worst nightmare. A disease more common in newborn puppies, parvo is something that every dog owner needs to be aware of.
Parvo in dogs presents itself intestinally or cardiovascularly. It is more common for parvo to show intestinally but if it is shown in the cardiovascular system, this means it is attacking or has attacked a dog’s heart muscles.
Parvo is a highly contagious virus that generally affects puppies and young dogs. It is an infectious gastro illness which can be deadly if not treated correctly. This infamous disease is so dangerous because of how easily it spreads through canines.
How can your dog catch Parvo?
There are a couple of ways in which your dog could catch Parvo. The easiest way is by coming into direct contact with another dog that is already infected. They can also catch it through faeces left behind by already infected dogs.
Canine parvovirus can also be contracted indirectly from clothing, equipment and/or human skin.
The disease can survive indoors at room temperature for two months. It clings onto furniture, clothing, human skin and other equipment. It can also survive outdoors for several months and sometimes even years if hidden from direct sunlight.
Humans can carry the virus into a dog’s environment if their shoes have come into contact with an area of infected soil. If you suspect that you have done so, use household bleach on the covered areas. It is one of the only substances known to kill the virus.
It is so important to visit your vet straight away if you suspect your dog has parvovirus. An infected dog and an infected environment need to be isolated and put through hospital quarantine to ensure the safety of your dog and other dogs.
Who can be affected by Parvo?
There are some breeds such as German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, English Springer Spaniels and American Staffordshire Terriers which are more at risk for contracting parvovirus. It is unknown as to why as scientists are yet to discover the reason why the risk is higher.
Usually parvovirus is more common in young dogs or puppies of 6 weeks to 6 months. After 6 weeks, puppies lose the antivirus that comes from their mothers after birth. This is why it’s so important to vaccinate your puppy against parvo at this stage.
Although parvo vaccine is not always 100%, they certainly give your dog a better chance of not catching it! Unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated puppies are at high risk of catching parvovirus.
This isn’t to say that older or more senior dogs are completely safe. Dogs of all ages are at risk, the risk has simply decreased as precautions are taken.
How does Parvovirus in dogs work?
Once parvovirus has been contracted in a dog, the virus will replicate. It replicates in areas such as the small intestine, lymph nodes and bone marrow. This leads to severe GI problems and in some, but rare, cases it can lead to Myocarditis which is the inflammation of the heart.
There are plenty of symptoms which you can look out for. Note that they are also symptoms of other issues too but it is always better to seek professional advice if you notice any of these things so to rule out any dangers to your dog.
These symptoms include:
- Severe, bloody diarrhea
- Weight loss
It can be hard to spot signs and symptoms if you’re a new puppy parent but keep an eye out for these ones in particular as they are easier to notice.
What Parvo treatment is there?
Technically speaking, there is no cure for parvovirus. No drugs can kill the virus, simply provide a coping mechanism. Unfortunately, it is a case of waiting for it to pass.
Parvo in puppies often requires intensive and isolated care to ensure there is no spreading of the disease. Immediately contact your vet, even if you have a small suspicion that your puppy or dog has symptoms of parvovirus. They are most likely to recommend isolation in a hospital where they can control what happens next.
Parvo disease reduces a dog’s ability to fight infections due to a lowered white blood cell count. Your vet may feel it fit to prescribe antibiotics or other medications to help your dog, depending on the severity of the case.
A vet will provide support and guidance through your dog’s nutrition, fluids and medication to ensure the best options are being carried out for your dog. This is crucial to ensure the survival of your dog which is why taking them to your vet is the best option for them.
Puppies that survive the first 3-4 days of parvovirus will almost certainly make a full recovery. After this, recovery will usually take around a week.
How can you prevent Parvo?
You can prevent your puppy or dog from contracting parvo by ensuring they are fully up to date with their vaccinations. They usually come in 3 shots; one at 6-8 weeks old, next at 10-12 weeks old and last at 14-16 weeks old. After one year, it is recommended for your dog to have a booster shot and after this, once every 3 years. Ensuring they are vaccinated will significantly reduce the risk of your dog contracting parvo.
Avoid taking your dog outdoors if they are unvaccinated. You never know which areas or dogs are unknowingly infected, don’t increase the risk. Never place a puppy in situations such as day care if they are unvaccinated either.
You can however allow contact and play time with another dog in secure environments such as your home but only if the other dog is fully vaccinated.
It is important for your puppy to socialise and explore their environment but remember that it is up to you to ensure that their health and safety is top of the priority list before allowing them to do so!
Your vet is your best friend when it comes to the health of your furry friend so be sure to contact them if you have suspicions or need professional advice.
If you have any questions for us regarding Parvovirus, don’t hesitate to get in touch! We love to hear from you so reach out to us on Facebook (Petz Park) where we are happy to help.