Parvovirus is a highly contagious and often fatal virus that is passed from dog to dog through contact with infected dogs or contaminated objects like bowls or toys. Our Stroudsburg veterinarians have compiled a list of parvovirus facts that you should be aware of in order to keep your four-legged friend healthy.

The Spread of Canine Parvovirus 'Parvo'

Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes severe gastrointestinal symptoms in puppies and unvaccinated dogs of all ages. The virus is spread through the feces of infected dogs. Asymptomatic dogs, those infected but not yet showing symptoms, as well as dogs showing symptoms and those who have recently recovered from the disease, can all spread Parvo.

Because the disease is so contagious, a person who unknowingly comes into contact with an infected dog can pass the virus on to puppies and other dogs by simply touching them. A loving pat on the head, for example, could be the beginning of a potentially fatal illness.

Other common sources of contamination are leashes, bowls, toys, and bedding.

How Parvovirus Attacks Your Dog's Body

Parvo is a stomach and small intestine infection. Here, the virus begins to degrade the dog's gut barrier, attacking healthy cells and preventing essential nutrients from being absorbed.

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.

Why Puppies Are Susceptible to Parvo

If the mother is fully vaccinated against Parvo the puppies will inherit antibodies from the mother which will protect them against the virus for the first 6 weeks of their lives. 

However, as the puppies begin to wean at about 6 weeks of age that their immune systems weaken and the young pups become susceptible to the disease.

Veterinarians recommend that pet parents begin vaccinating their puppies against Parvo at 6 weeks of age, when the puppy begins to wean and the mother's antibodies are no longer effective in protecting the puppy.

The young dog will not be protected against the disease until they have received all three Parvo vaccinations. Puppies are most susceptible to Parvo during the period between weaning and full vaccination..

Your dog should receive their parvovirus vaccines at 6, 8, and 12 weeks of age. If you are a pet parent, having your dog vaccinated for Parvovirus immunity is one of the best ways your can guard the health of your new companion and the health of other dogs in your household and neighborhood.

What are the symptoms of parvovirus in dogs?

It's imperative to understand that by the time your puppy starts to exhibit symptoms, they are already gravely ill. Immediately call your veterinarian if you notice any of the symptoms listed below in your puppy.

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Depression

Treatment for Parvovirus in Puppies

Parvo in puppies cannot be cured, but your vet can treat the symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea, supportively. Your dog must get the right amount of nutrition and hydration in order to recover from Parvovirus.

Your veterinarian will monitor your puppy's development and may recommend antibiotics to help combat any bacterial infections that develop because secondary infections are frequent in puppies with Parvo (due to their compromised immune systems).

There is a good chance that your puppy will recover from the disease if he or she is treated by a veterinarian and survives the first four days after symptoms appear. Parvo in dogs usually lasts about a week to recover from.

If your puppy is diagnosed with Parvovirus, it is essential to take steps to isolate your puppy from other animals and always wash your hands thoroughly after being near your young dog.

Preventing Parvo 

There is never a good reason to let your puppy interact with other dogs who have not received their full Parvovirus vaccination. Even though socialization is vital for young dogs, it's also crucial to make sure that the dogs your puppy interacts with are fully vaccinated and do not pose a health risk. How to best protect your new four-legged family member should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Be sure to follow your vet's advice and have your puppy vaccinated against Parvo, rabies, and other potentially serious conditions based on a puppy vaccination schedule for your area.

If your puppy or unvaccinated dog is showing any signs of illness or symptoms of Parvovirus, contact us immediately! Your pup's life could depend upon it.