What is Canine Parvo or Parvovirus?
Parvo infection in dogs is caused by a virus called Parvovirus.
How does a dog become infected with parvovirus?
Infected dogs shed the virus in their faeces, and the virus is very stable and can survive for months in the environment. It is highly contagious between dogs. The virus can also be carried on contaminated clothing and footwear, so direct contact between dogs is not required.
How does parvovirus affect the dog?
Symptoms develop 7-10 days after exposure. The virus destroys rapidly dividing cells, in particular the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract. Initial symptoms are:
- lack of appetite
Diarrhoea often develops after 1-2 days, and this can be severe and sometimes bloody. Parvovirus can cause death due to severe dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and infection in the bloodstream (septicaemia).
Can it be treated?
Intensive treatment is generally required in the form of intravenous fluids, antibiotics, and anti-vomiting medication. In less severely affected cases, dehydration may be treated via subcutaneous fluids or oral rehydration fluids.
Can it be prevented?
The best way to protect against this infection is through vaccination. Puppies need a complete course of vaccinations to ensure they are protected, and adult dogs require regular boosters to maintain adequate immunity. Puppy vaccinations start from 6 weeks of age, and consist of three vaccinations. The puppy will not be protected until 7-10 days after the final injection. Until this time the puppy should be kept on your property.
Other prevention tips:
- Limit your puppy or un-vaccinated dog’s exposure to other dogs (especially if the other dog is not vaccinated)
- Avoid places where your puppy or un-vaccinated dog could be exposed to parvovirus from un-vaccinated dogs.
- If you work or spend time in places where you have contact with dogs, change your clothes and shoes before returning home to your dog or puppy.
- Parvovirus is very difficult to kill and can live in the environment for over a year. If you suspect your house or yard has been infected, clean with a bleach dilution. Regular soaps and disinfectants DO NOT kill parvovirus.
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Tags: Kennel, Pet and Vet, Vet, Veterinary Medicine, Dog, Parvovirus, Puppy, Vaccination