Canine Parvovirus (Parvo)

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Canine Parvovirus (Parvo)


What is canine parvovirus?
Canine parvovirus, often shortened to just parvo, is a highly contagious virus that attacks specific cells in the gastrointestinal tract of dogs. 

Who is at greatest risk of getting canine parvovirus?
Parvo can affect all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than four months old are the most at risk. Some breeds of dogs are considered more susceptible to parvo including Pit Bulls and Rottweillers.

How is canine parvovirus spread?
Parvo is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated stool, environments, or people. The virus can also contaminate kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, and the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs. 

The parvo virus is resistant to heat, cold, humidity, and drying, and can survive in the environment for long periods of time (for a year or more in ideal conditions). Even trace amounts of stool containing parvovirus may infect other dogs that come into the infected environment. It can be transmitted from place to place on the hair or feet of dogs or via contaminated cages, shoes, or other objects.

What are the symptoms of canine parvovirus?
Some of the signs of parvo include:
  • lethargy
  • loss of appetite
  • fever
  • vomiting
  • severe, often bloody, diarrhea
Vomiting and diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration, and most deaths from parvovirus occur within 48 to 72 hours following the onset of signs. If your puppy or dog shows any of these signs, you should isolate your dog and contact your veterinarian immediately.

How is canine parvovirus treated?
Treatment consists primarily of efforts to combat dehydration by replacing electrolyte and fluid losses, controlling vomiting and diarrhea, and preventing secondary infections until the dog’s immune system is able to fight the virus. Due to the highly contagious nature of parvovirus, infected dogs must be isolated in order to prevent the spread of the infection. Even with proper treatment unfortunately not all dogs survive ones they are infected with the Parvo virus. Prompt and proper treatment offers the best chance for success.

When should dogs receive a parvovirus vaccine?
  • Puppies should receive their first DHPP vaccination between 6 to 8 weeks of age. Boosters should be given every three weeks until the last one is given at 15 to 20 weeks of age. 
  • A puppy is not considered fully protected against Parvo until they have received the complete series of vaccines. 
  • Once your pet is showing signs of Parvo, it is too late to give the vaccination. In some cases giving the vaccination at this time can increase the severity of the symptoms.

Tips for cleaning and disinfecting for canine parvovirus:
  • Wear gloves and shoe covers
  • Wash all bedding and other machine washable items with hot water, bleach and detergent. Dry them in a hot dryer. 
  • Create a bleach solution of 1 part bleach to 32 (e.g. 4 oz of bleach to one gallon of water) parts water and use it to clean all bleachable surfaces including bedding (once laundered), food/water bowls, toys, cages/crates, floors, etc. 
  • Do not use a standard mop to clean the floors - best to spray the bleach solution, let it stand for at least five minutes, and then use a mop with disposable pads to clean the floor, changing the pad frequently. 
Posted Monday, August 17, 2015