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Dog Parvovirus: What You Need to Know

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 Beacon 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 Dog Parvovirus

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

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

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

How Parvovirus Attacks Your Dog's Body

Parvovirus is a stomach and small intestine disease. Here, the virus begins to wreak havoc on the dog's intestinal barrier, attacking healthy cells and preventing important 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.

Pet owners should begin vaccination their puppies against Parvo at 6 weeks of age, when the puppy begins to wean and the mother's antibodies are no longer useful 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 likely to contract Parvo during the time between weaning and full vaccination.

Your dog should receive their vaccines against Parvovirus at 6, 8, and 12 weeks of age for immunity. If you are a pet parent, having your puppy vaccinated against Parvovirus 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 is crucial to understand that once your puppy begins to exhibit symptoms, they are already very sick. Contact your veterinarian straight away if you detect any of the symptoms described below in your puppy.

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

Treatment for Parvovirus in Puppies

Although there is no cure for Parvo in puppies, your veterinarian can provide supportive treatment for symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. In order to recover from Parvovirus, it is critical that your dog receives adequate hydration and nutrition.

Secondary infections are prevalent in pups with Parvo (because of their weakened immune systems), so your veterinarian will monitor your puppy's progress and may prescribe antibiotics to battle any bacterial infections that develop.

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 

Allowing your puppy to interact with dogs that have not received a full Parvovirus vaccination is never a smart idea. While socializing is beneficial for young pups, it is also critical that the dogs with which your puppy interacts are fully vaccinated and do not represent a health risk. Ask your veterinarian how to best 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 a puppy vaccination schedule for your area.

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

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Our vets at The Beacon Veterinary Associates are now accepting new patients! Our experienced team of veterinary professionals are passionate about giving the cats and dogs of Beacon the health care they need. Contact us today to schedule your pet's first appointment.

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