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Dog Parvovirus

Dog Parvovirus

Parvovirus infections, while only causing discomfort in vaccinated dogs, can cause serious health complications for puppies and unvaccinated dogs. Below our Fairhaven vets talk about parvovirus in dogs, the dangers of this virus and what you can do to protect your pup.

Parvovirus in Dogs

Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes extreme gastrointestinal symptoms in puppies and unvaccinated dogs of all ages. The virus is spread through traces of feces from infected dogs. Asymptomatic dogs that are infected but have not yet begun to exhibit symptoms are able to spread Parvo, as well as dogs with symptoms, and those that have recently recovered from the condition.

The level of transmission with this disease is so great that a person who comes into contact with an infected dog can pass the virus along to other dogs and puppies just by touching them or their things including food dishes, toys, and bedding. Meaning that a loving pat on the head could become the start of a life-threatening illness.

The peak seasons for Parvovirus in Fairhaven are summer and fall. If you have a young puppy be sure to contact your vet immediately if your dog shows symptoms of Parvo.

How Your Dog May Be Affected by Parvovirus

Parvo is considered a disease of the stomach and small intestines. It is here that the virus begins destroying the dog's gut barrier by attacking healthy cells and blocking the absorption of essential nutrients.

In puppies, Parvo also attacks the bone marrow and lymphopoietic tissues which play essential roles in your dog's immune system, and then the virus will often affect the heart.

Why is parvovirus so dangerous for puppies?

When the mother of the puppies is fully vaccinated against parvovirus, it means that the puppies will be protected until they begin to wean, usually around six weeks of age.

During the weaning process, they will begin to lose their immunity from parvovirus and other diseases. 

Vets urge pet parents to begin vaccinating their puppy against Parvo at six weeks of age 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 three Parvo vaccinations that they will be protected against the disease. The most common time for puppies to become infected with parvo i during the time between weaning and once they are fully vaccinated.

What are the symptoms of parvovirus in dogs?

Unfortunately, when the symptoms of parvovirus begin to show in a dog or puppy, this means that the infection is already serious. If infected with parvovirus, your dog may begin to show the following symptoms:

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

If any of the above symptoms appear in your dog or puppy, you need to contact your vet right away.

Treating Parvovirus in Dogs

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.

Protecting Your Dog Against Parvovirus with Vaccines

You should always keep your puppy or dog away from other pups that have not been vaccinated. With dog viruses, protection usually comes in the form of vaccines, and this is no exception as parvovirus immunity only comes from vaccinations.

While socialization is essential for young dogs it is important to know that the dogs that your puppy spends time with are fully vaccinated and do not pose a health risk to your pup. Talk to your vet about how best to protect your new four-legged family member.

Be sure to follow your vet's advice when having your puppy or dog vaccinated against Parvo, rabies and other potentially serious conditions, and follow the recommended puppy vaccination schedule for your area.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog or puppy has been in contact with an infected animal, please contact our vets in Fairhaven right away.

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