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Puppies, Dogs & Parvovirus: What You Need to Know

Highly contagious and often deadly, parvovirus spreads between dogs through contact with infected dogs or contaminated items such as toys or bowls. Today, our Rancho Cucamonga vets share facts about parvovirus that you need to know to keep your four-legged friend healthy. 

Parvovirus in Dogs

For puppies and unvaccinated dogs of all ages, this highly contagious virus causes extreme gastrointestinal symptoms. Canine parvovirus spreads through traces of feces from infected dogs. Your canine friend can also be asymptomatic and not yet begun to have shown symptoms, but still be able to spread parvo. Dogs with symptoms and those that have recently recovered from the condition can also spread the virus. 

In fact, this disease is so infectious that a person who's unknowingly been in contact with an infected dog can pass the virus on to puppies and other dogs simply through touch, meaning that unfortunately, patting a pup lovingly on the head could touch off a life-threatening illness. 

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

Summer and fall are typically peak seasons for parvovirus. If you've got a young puppy, be sure to get in touch with your vet immediately if your dog displays symptoms of parvo. 

How Parvovirus Attacks Your Dog's Body

Parvo begins destroying a dog's gut barrier in the stomach and small intestines by attacking healthy cells and blocking the body from absorbing essential nutrients. 

In puppies, parvo also attacks the bone marrow and lymphopoietic tissues, which play integral roles in your dog's immune system. The virus will often go on to impact 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, their immune systems weaken and the young pups become susceptible to the disease.

Vets urge pet parents to begin vaccinating their puppy against parvo when they are 6 weeks old when the puppy begins to wean and the antibodies from the mother are no longer available to protect the puppy.

However, it isn't until the young dog has received all 3 parvo vaccinations 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 parvo.

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

Symptoms of Parvovirus in a Dog

By now, you're likely wondering, "What are the symptoms of parvovirus in dogs?" It is essential to understand that once your puppy or dog begins showing symptoms of parvovirus they are already very ill. Here are some common symptoms of the virus:

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

Treatment for Parvovirus in Puppies

There is no cure for parvo in puppies, 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.

Since secondary infections are common in puppies with parvo (due to their weakened immune systems) your vet will be sure to monitor your puppy's ongoing condition and may prescribe antibiotics to help combat any bacterial infections that may begin to develop.

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 puppy will recover from the disease. It typically takes about a week for dogs to recover from parvo.

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

Preventing Parvo

Never let your puppy spend time around dogs that have not been fully vaccinated against parvovirus. While socialization is essential for young dogs, it is important to know if the dogs that your puppy spends time with are fully vaccinated and do not pose a health risk to your pup.

It's important to note that your puppy or dog will not have full immunity against the virus until two weeks after their final vaccine. This means that even after they've had their last puppy vaccination, you should wait an additional two weeks to ensure parvovirus immunity has had a chance to take effect before socializing your dog with other dogs whose vaccination status may be unclear. 

Talk to your vet about the best ways to protect your new four-legged family member, including booking an appointment for your pooch to get the parvovirus shot and other dog vaccines. 

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

If your puppy or unvaccinated dog is showing any signs of illness or symptoms of parvovirus, contact our Rancho Cucamonga animal hospital immediately! Your pup's life could depend upon it.

New Patients Welcome

Rancho Regional Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Rancho Cucamonga companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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