Parvovirus, or ‘Parvo’ for short, is a terrible virus that affects dogs and is commonly found in puppies and canines with weakened immune systems. Unfortunately, if not diagnosed and treated quickly, the results can be deadly. Here are all the facts that you need to know.
What does Parvovirus do?
Parvovirus can manifest in one of two ways. The first and most common manifestation is in the animal’s intestines. However, the virus can also present in the heart. The latter tends to affect puppies who are younger than two months old and almost always proves fatal. The former is easier to treat, but if left untreated, it will still kill around 90% of dogs infected.
How is Parvovirus spread?
Parvovirus is spread very easily and quickly. If one puppy within a litter is infected, it is practically guaranteed that the rest will be, too. Generally, parvovirus is spread through an infected dog’s feces. The virus can be spread whether the puppy encounters fecal matter either directly or indirectly.
What are the symptoms of Parvovirus?
Once infected, most puppies will begin to show signs of the virus within three – 10 days. The most common symptoms include:
- Severe and frequent diarrhea
- Blood in the feces
- Vomiting and retching
- Severe dehydration
- Loss of appetite
If your puppy shows any of the signs above, you must get him or her to a veterinarian, like heart and paw in East Market, as quickly as possible. The virus is managed by giving the sick dog intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration, along with strong antibiotics to prevent any other infections from worsening the animal’s condition.
Can dogs recover from the Parvovirus?
Yes. While the future looks bleak for puppies who have Parvovirus and remain undiagnosed and untreated, the fatality rates for puppies who receive timely, consistent treatment falls to around 5 – 20%. Many dogs recover fully from the virus, although some may show signs of intestinal trouble or food sensitivities for the remainder of their lives. The good news is that these consequences are easily managed through diet and regular check-ups at the vet.
Is it possible to prevent Parvovirus?
Yes. Parvovirus can be prevented through vaccination. Puppies receive their Parvovirus vaccinations as six, eight, and 12 weeks of age. Unfortunately, this means that they are vulnerable to the virus up until that time, especially if the puppies’ mother was not properly vaccinated against the disease. Puppies will essentially rely on the antibodies sourced from their mother for those first few weeks of life, and if they are not strong enough, they will almost certainly fall victim to the virus if exposed to it early on. To be extra careful, you may want to avoid taking your puppy out for walks or to puppy socialization classes until he or she has received all his/her Parvovirus vaccinations.
Education is key when it comes to protecting your pup from this terrible disease. Do not hesitate to ask your vet for advice and further information.