Parvovirus is a serious, highly contagious virus that is spread between dogs via contact with infected dogs or contaminated objects such as toys. In this post, our Toledo vets discuss parvovirus symptoms, how it spreads, and how you can prevent your dog from getting it.
How is canine parvovirus spread?
Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes extreme gastrointestinal symptoms in puppies and unvaccinated adult dogs. The virus is spread through traces of feces from infected dogs. The bacteria of the virus can survive in the environment for a few days, and your dog could contract it that way as well. Asymptomatic infection is possible and even dogs who do not display symptoms can still pass along the virus.
Humans 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?
After incubation, parvovirus attacks the dog's stomach and small intestines. The virus destroys the gut barrier by attacking healthy cells and blocking the absorption of nutrients and minerals. It can sometimes affect the heart as well.
In puppies, parvo also attacks the bone marrow and lymphopoietic tissues, which play essential roles in their immune system.
Why are puppies susceptible to parvo?
If the mother of the litter is fully vaccinated against parvovirus, the puppies will inherit antibodies and be immune to the virus for up to 6 weeks old.
However, as the puppies begin to wean, their immune systems weaken and they become more susceptible to disease and infection. This is why vets urge pet parents to vaccinate their puppy against parvovirus no later than 6 weeks old when the antibodies from their mother have lost their effectiveness.
A dog must receive all 3 of the recommended parvovirus vaccines to be properly protected against the disease. It is during the gap between weaning and full vaccination that puppies are most likely to catch it.
What are the symptoms of parvovirus in a dog?
It's important to know that if you see your dog exhibit symptoms of parvovirus, they are likely already very sick. If you notice that your pup display any of the following symptoms, contact your vet immediately:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Loss of Appetite
- Weight loss
Treatment for Parvovirus in Dogs
There is no known cure for parvovirus in dogs. Your vet will, however, offer supportive treatments to address symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea, and make your furry friend more comfortable. It is essential that the dog gets adequate hydration and nutrition in order to recover from the virus.
Secondary infections are common in puppies with parvovirus due to their weaker immune systems, so your vet will be sure to monitor their ongoing condition. They may also prescribe antibiotics to help combat any bacterial infections that can develop.
If your dog survives the first four days of parvovirus while being treated by the vet, there is a good chance that they will recover! It typically takes about a week for dogs to fully recover from parvovirus.
If your dog is diagnosed with canine parvovirus, it is crucial to isolate your dog from other animals. Always wash your hands thoroughly after being near your dog.
How can I prevent parvo?
Parvovirus vaccines are the best way to prevent the virus. Before your pup is fully vaccinated, never allow them to spend time around dogs that have not been vaccinated against parvovirus. Socialization is essential for young dogs, but it is more important that your pup doesn't spend time around unvaccinated dogs as they could pose a health risk. Talk to your vet about how best to protect your new furry family member!
Be sure to follow your vet's advice and have your dog vaccinated against parvovirus, rabies, and other potentially serious conditions based on the suggested vaccination schedule for your area.