When your dog is in close proximity to other dogs it increases their risk of contracting contagious diseases such as parvo. Here, our Nashville vets share some information about parvovirus in dogs and how you can help protect them against this serious disease.
How is parvovirus spread among dogs?
Parvovirus is a virus that is highly contagious and targets the gastrointestinal system of young puppies and dogs that are unvaccinated. Like many other types of illnesses, this virus spreads primarily through the feces of infected dogs. Asymptomatic dogs that are infected but have not yet begun to exhibit symptoms are able to spread parvovirus, as well as dogs with signs, and those that have recently recovered from the condition.
The disease is so infectious that a person who has unknowingly been in contact with an infected dog can pass the virus on to puppies and other dogs simply through touch, which means that a loving pat on the head could become the start of a life-threatening illness.
This virus can also be spread through contaminated objects such as toys, blankets and food or water dishes.
How does parvovirus affect dogs?
Parvovirus is a disease that affects the stomach and small intestines of infected dogs. It is here that the virus begins destroying the dog's gut barrier by attacking healthy cells and blocking the absorption of essential nutrients.
In puppies parvovirus also attacks the bone marrow and lymphopoietic tissues which play essential roles in your dog's immune system, then the virus will often affect the heart.
What makes puppies more likely to contract parvovirus?
If your adult female dog is expecting puppies and is also vaccinated she will share the antibodies with her puppies and they will be protected for the first six weeks of their lives.
This protection will come to an end once the puppies have been weaned from their mother and they will be at risk of contracting this disease.
Vets urge pet parents to begin vaccinating their puppy against parvovirus at 6 weeks of age when the puppy starts to wean and the antibodies from the mother are no longer available to protect the puppy.
However, it isn't until the young dog has received all 3 parvovirus vaccinations that they will be protected against the disease. During the gap between weaning and full vaccination, puppies are most likely to catch Parvo.
When your puppy is 6, 8 and 12 weeks of age, they should receive their vaccines against parvovirus. Having your puppy vaccinated against this illness is the only way to help protect your puppy along with the pets and people in your area.
What are the commonly seen symptoms of parvovirus?
The important thing to remember is that once the symptoms appear, the virus is already established within your pup's body. Some of the common symptoms are:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Loss of Appetite
- Weight loss
Can parvovirus in puppies be treated?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for parvo in puppies. The main treatment will be managing the accompanying symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea. It is essential that your pup gets adequate hydration and nutrition in order to recover from Parvovirus.
Since secondary infections are common in puppies with parvovirus (due to their weakened immune systems) your vet will be sure to monitor your puppy's ongoing condition and may prescribe antibiotics to help combat any bacterial infections that may begin to develop.
If your four-legged friend is being treated by a veterinarian and survives the first four days after symptoms appear, there is a good chance that your puppy will recover from the disease. Recovery from this virus takes about a week for most dogs.
If your puppy has been diagnosed with canine parvo then you will need to isolate them from other pets and people and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after seeing them.
How can you help to prevent parvovirus in your puppy?
The easiest way to protect your young puppy against parvo is to stop them from spending any time with unvaccinated dogs. While socialization is essential for young dogs it is important to know that the dogs that your puppy spends time with are fully vaccinated and do not pose a health risk to your pup. Talk to your vet about protecting your new four-legged family member.
Be sure to follow your vet's advice and have your puppy vaccinated against parvovirus, rabies and other potentially serious conditions based on a puppy vaccination schedule for your area.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.