Having a social dog can be great, except when it comes to the pups sharing illness as much as they share toys. Here, our Rockland County vets talk about the spread of parvovirus in dogs as well as the symptoms and treatment options to help your pup feel better.
How is parvovirus in dogs spread?
Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes extreme gastrointestinal symptoms in puppies and unvaccinated dogs of all ages. Parvo is typically transmitted through the feces of an infected dog. Infected dogs can include those that have recently recovered from parvo as well as those that are not showing any symptoms. This only makes the transmission more widespread.
Unfortunately, if you have been in contact with an infected dog you can pick up the virus and transmit it to puppies and unvaccinated dogs. Meaning that a loving pat on the head could become the start of a life-threatening illness.
This virus is also commonly spread among toys, bedding and food and water dishes.
The peak seasons for parvovirus are usually summer and fall. If you have a young puppy be sure to contact your vet immediately if your dog shows symptoms of parvo.
What are the effects of parvo on your dog's body?
Parvovirus in dogs is a condition that affects the gastrointestinal tract, including the stomach and small intestines. 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 parvo 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 parvo more likely to affect puppies?
If your vaccinated dog has recently had puppies she will be able to provide them with protection against parvo for the first 6 weeks, through the antibodies present in her milk.
Unfortunately, this will no longer be an option after 6 weeks once the puppies have been weaned from the mother.
Vets urge pet parents to begin vaccinating their puppy against parvo when they are 6 weeks old when the puppy begins 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 parvo vaccinations that they will be protected against the disease. It is during the gap between weaning and full vaccination that puppies are most likely to catch parvo.
Your puppy should receive their vaccines against parvovirus at 6, 8, and 12 weeks of age. If you are a pet parent, having your puppy vaccinated against parvovirus is one of the best ways you can guard the health of your new companion and the health of other dogs in your household and neighborhood.
Symptoms of Parvovirus in a Dog
It is essential to understand that once your puppy begins showing symptoms they are already very ill. If you notice that your puppy is displaying any of the following symptoms contact your vet immediately.
- Bloody diarrhea
- Loss of Appetite
- Weight loss
How can you treat parvovirus in dogs?
While you cannot cure parvo in puppies you can help manage the parvovirus symptoms with medications prescribed by the vet. while your puppy is recovering from parvo you will need to ensure that they are eating and drinking well. This will help them recover quicker.
Since secondary infections are common in puppies with parvo (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.
As long as you seek veterinary care and your puppy is being treated within four days of infection they will likely make a full recovery. It will generally take a week for parvo to make its way through your dog's body.
If your puppy is diagnosed with canine parvovirus, it is essential to take the steps required to isolate your puppy from other animals and always wash your hands thoroughly after being near your young dog.
How to Protect Your Dog Against Parvo
Never let your puppy spend time around dogs that have not been fully vaccinated against parvovirus. While socialization is essential for young dogs, it is important to know if 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 the best ways to protect your new four-legged family member.
Be sure to 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.
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.