Parvovirus is a highly contagious disease that Can be especially dangerous for puppies. In today's article, our Santa Barbara vets discuss everything pet owners should know about parvovirus in dogs.
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, then the virus will often affect the heart.
How Parvovirus Spreads
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 can spread Parvo, as well as dogs with symptoms, and those that have recently recovered from the condition.
The disease is so infectious that a person who has unknowingly been in contact with an infected dog can pass the virus on to puppies and other dogs simply through touch. Meaning that a loving pat on the head could become the start of a life-threatening illness.
Other common sources of contamination are leashes, bowls, toys, and bedding.
Why Puppies Are More Likely to Contract 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 will no longer be supplemented by their mother's antibodies and your puppy will begin to be susceptible to parvo and other serious diseases.
This makes providing your puppy with vaccinations against parvo at 6 weeks of age incredibly important.
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 contract parvo.
Symptoms of Parvo in Dogs
One of the most important things to know is that by the time you notice any symptoms your dog will already be quite ill. If you notice that your puppy is displaying any of the following symptoms contact your vet immediately.
- Weight loss
- Bloody diarrhea
- Loss of Appetite
Treating Parvo in Dogs
There is no cure for parvo in puppies which makes vaccinations all the more important, however, if your dog does become infected your vet can recommend treatments that will help relieve some of the very uncomfortable symptoms of parvo in your dog. Your pup must get adequate hydration and nutrition to recover from parvo.
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.
Preventing Parvo With Vaccinations
Never allow your puppy to spend time around dogs that have not received vaccinations for parvo or other diseases. While socialization is essential for young dogs it is important to know that the dogs your dog spends time with have received all of their required vaccinations 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.
The best way to be sure that your dog is protected is to provide them with vaccinations against parvo, rabies, and other potentially serious conditions based on a puppy vaccination schedule for your area.