Dog Parvovirus

Dog parvovirus was unknown until the 1970s. When it hit, it hit hard. This highly contagious dog illness kills almost every dog that it infects. It not only kills, but it makes the dog miserable while doing so. Luckily, there is a vaccine for parvo. Humans cannot catch this disease, so inter-species contact is not a concern.

The parvovirus vaccine is one of the vaccinations that a puppy gets during its first few visits to a veterinarian. Stray dogs and owners who do not vaccinate make their pets vulnerable to dog parvovirus. Most puppies receive the vaccine at eight weeks of age. They are protected by their mother’s milk prior to this point. If for some reason a puppy is unable to nurse, it will need protection at an earlier age. Once vaccinated it takes one or two weeks before the immunization is in effect.

Parvo is an adaptable disease and new strains and vaccinations are constantly battling. Knowing the symptoms enables pet owners to get their dog into the vet fast if they begin to show symptoms. If a dog somehow contracts parvo, there is little that a veterinarian can do to treat it. The vet will simply try to keep the dog fed and hydrated in the hopes that it might beat the odds and survive. As 80+ percent of all dogs that get dog parvovirus die, the odds are stacked against the unlucky pooch receiving treatment.

The symptoms of parvovirus include lack of energy, vomiting, no appetite, bloody diarrhea and an unusual odor to the feces. Many dogs, especially young puppies, die from lack of nutrition and dehydration.

When the afflicted dog goes to the veterinarian, they will do a test on the stool looking for the virus. Most clinics are able to do this test within the office. Bringing a sample of the dogs stool makes this quick test even faster. If the test is positive, everyone will need to move quickly if the dog has any chance at all of survival.

As the owner waits, the virus moves quickly. This is why a fast diagnosis is so important. If you wait even a few days, it is an almost certain death sentence. A dog that manages to survive 3-5 days after presenting symptoms has a chance of recovery. If there is a bright side to catching parvo, the dog can never catch it again.

A dog that does survive needs a quiet and stress free life for a few weeks. They will be weak and need a lot of care. They will have diarrhea and an upset stomach so the owner needs to be ready to clean up any messes that occur. They will not be able to handle their regular food, and the vet will probably recommend a specific diet that is easy to digest.

Even when the dog is feeling better, remember that he or she is still infectious. They should be kept away from other dogs or places that dogs visit for at least a month. Once they are no longer infectious, things can go back to normal.

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