Parvovirus is a serious, highly contagious, virus that is spread between dogs via contact with infected dogs or contaminated objects such as toys or bedding. Puppies are particularly susceptible. Today, our Fairfield, NJ vets discuss how parvovirus spreads and how you can prevent it.
How is canine parvovirus spread?
Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes severe diarrhea in puppies and unvaccinated dogs of all ages. The virus spreads through traces of infected dogs' feces. Dogs can spread this infectious virus in the days before they show symptoms, as well as after they have recovered. Asymptomatic infection is possible, and dogs who do not exhibit symptoms can still spread the virus.
People who are in contact with dogs who have parvovirus can unknowingly spread it to other dogs.
Some other common sources of contamination are leashes, bowls, toys, and bedding.
How does parvovirus attack your dog's body?
Parvovirus attacks a dog's stomach and small intestines. The virus destroys a 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. It can sometimes affect the heart as well.
Why are puppies susceptible to parvo?
If the mother is fully vaccinated against parvovirus the puppies will inherit antibodies from the mother and will have parvovirus immunity for about the first 6 weeks of their lives.
However, as the puppies begin to wean, their immune systems weaken and the young pups become susceptible to the disease.
This is why vets urge pet parents to begin vaccinating their puppy against parvo at 6 weeks old when the antibodies from their mother are no longer available to protect them.
It isn't until a young dog has received all 3 of the recommended parvovirus vaccines 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 parvovirus.
What are the symptoms of parvovirus in a dog?
It is critical to understand that once your dog begins to exhibit symptoms, he or she is already very ill. If you notice any of the following symptoms in your dog, contact your veterinarian right away:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Loss of Appetite
- Weight loss
Treatment for Parvovirus in Dogs
There is no cure for parvo in dogs, however, your vet will offer supportive treatments to address symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. It is essential that your pup gets adequate hydration and nutrition in order to recover from parvovirus.
Because secondary infections are common in puppies with parvo (due to their weakened immune systems), your vet will keep an eye on your puppy's progress and may prescribe antibiotics to combat any bacterial infections that may arise.
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 pup will recover from the disease. It typically takes about a week for dogs to recover from Parvo.
If your dog is diagnosed with canine parvovirus it is essential to take steps to isolate your dog from other animals and always wash your hands thoroughly after being near your dog.
How can I prevent parvo?
The best way to avoid contracting the virus is with a parvovirus vaccine. Never let your puppy interact with dogs that have not received their full parvovirus vaccination before they have received theirs. Despite the fact that socialization is crucial for young dogs, it's crucial to ensure that the dogs your puppy interacts with are fully vaccinated and do not pose a health risk to your pup. Discuss the best ways to protect your new four-legged family member with your veterinarian.
Be sure to follow your vet's advice and have your dog vaccinated against parvo, rabies, and other potentially serious conditions based on the suggested vaccination schedule for your area.