The last thing any dog owner wants to hear is, “I’m sorry, your puppy has parvo”. Left untreated, the death rate from parvo is as high as 91 percent. The disease is particularly brutal for puppies, but luckily we can give them a series of vaccinations to protect against it.
What is parvo? Parvo is caused by the canine parvovirus, a highly contagious virus that attacks the stomach and small intestines. In the small intestine, parvo destroys cells, disrupts the gut barrier, and impairs absorption of nutrients. Parvo can also infect bone marrow and lymphopoietic tissues, and occasionally also affects the heart.
How is parvo spread? This virus is highly contagious and spreads easily from one dog to another, or can even be transmitted by a person or object who was recently exposed to an infected dog. Even something as seemingly innocent as a toy or water bowl can harbor the parvo virus.
Some breeds appear to be at increased risk of parvo, such as Rottweilers, Dobermans, English Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and American Staffordshire Terriers.
What are the symptoms of parvo? The virus most often affects puppies from age six weeks to six months. If your puppy contracts parvo, he will quickly become very sick with symptoms like:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Anorexia (won’t eat)
- Weight loss
- Weight loss
Any time you notice any of these symptoms in a puppy, notify us immediately. We should take immediate action with supportive care in order to have the best chance at a happy outcome. In addition, your puppy must be quarantined away from other dogs to avoid further transmission. Unfortunately there is no cure for parvo, but we need to keep your puppy hydrated and take other steps to help him recover.
How can I prevent parvo in my puppy? It is fortunate that we can vaccinate puppies against parvo, but they must receive the entire series of vaccinations at the appropriate times. Puppies should receive their parvo vaccinations at 8, 12 , and 16 weeks of age. Take care not to skip shots, and if you obtain your puppy from someone else, ask them for proof of vaccinations.
When you adopt a new puppy, call us immediately to schedule their first checkup. We will discuss parvo prevention and help you keep your new family member safe from this devastating virus.