How Do Dogs Get Parvo? Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention
Parvo is the serious and highly contagious condition that dogs develop through exposure to the Canine Parvovirus. With something like this, it is important that you have as much information as possible, which is what we are going to be providing in this blog post, along with details of symptoms, treatment, and possible prevention methods. You need to take all the appropriate steps to prevent your dog from becoming infected as this is an issue that can be fatal in canines.
What is Parvo?
A highly serious and highly contagious viral illness, Parvo is developed through exposure to the Canine Parvovirus or CPV. It is fatal for many dogs who are diagnosed with this condition.
There are two different main forms that this virus takes. The first is the intestinal form, which involves issues like diarrhea, vomiting, a lack of appetite, and weight loss. This is due to the virus directly affecting a dog’s intestines, preventing the absorption of vital nutrients. Weakness and dehydration are both common side effects of this form of the illness.
Less common is the cardiac form of the illness, but this one is also the more serious manifestation. It typically attacks fetuses and young puppies and can often result in death.
What Dogs Are Most at Risk for Parvo?
You may be wondering how do dogs get Parvo. Generally, this illness affects young puppies between the ages of six weeks and six months. Incidences of the infection can be reduced dramatically by early vaccination. Unvaccinated and incompletely vaccinated dogs are also at risk. A few breeds which are at an increased risk of contracting the virus include German Shepherds, Dobermans, and Rottweilers. Scientists have not been able to determine why this is the case, but you need to bear in mind that these pooches are more at risk.
Newborn puppies are born with antibodies that come from their mothers. Over time, these fade, which is why it is so important that puppies receive a course of vaccinations. If you have a pregnant dog or new puppies, it is so important that you speak to your vet about proper care techniques.
Outbreaks of Parvo are most commonly recorded in towns and cities with a big proportion of unvaccinated dogs.
How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Parvovirus?
Unfortunately, the warning signs that parvovirus is going to affect your dog are not all that pronounced. Parvo symptoms in dogs can develop suddenly around 3-10 days after exposure. This acute illness can cause puppies to die with no prior infection signs. But some of the possible symptoms include bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever, lethargy, discomfort, sudden weight loss, and a loss of appetite.
If your dog is not treated quickly, the illness can progress rapidly. It is extremely serious that treatment is sought as soon as possible as it can progress so quickly. In just two or three days, death can occur, so you need to consult your vet with urgency.
As a result of Parvo, other complications can occur including secondary illnesses, damage to the spleen, sepsis, and intussusception. Dogs with heart conditions are at greater risk of developing more serious ramifications.
Even if the disease is not the root cause of some of the signs of Parvo in dogs listed above, there is every chance that they are the result of another illness which needs immediate attention.
Parvo in puppies tends to be more serious as the symptoms weaken their immune systems, which are already not fully developed. Secondary illnesses are common, and even dehydration can be fatal.
How Does Parvo Spread?
Parvo in dogs is extremely dangerous to the canine community as it spreads so easily. It can spread through a couple of different methods including direct contact with an affected dog and through feces. Since dogs spend so much time sniffing each other’s butts, it is very easy to see how this spreads. Also, the virus can survive on human skin, clothing, and equipment. Infected dogs can start shedding the virus after four or five days – before there are any signs of infection. It continues to shed throughout the sickness and period and up to 10 days after recovery. If your dog has been diagnosed with Parvo, they need to be quarantined. You need to keep your dog well clear of any pooches with suspected infections.
Unfortunately, the resilience of the virus means that it can survive at room temperature for two months or longer. It is able to resist a whole host of common disinfectants and cleaner. If protected from direct sunlight, the virus can survive for months or even years, which makes professional cleanup so important. Household bleach is one of the disinfectants known to kill the virus. Bear in mind that if a dog has had the parvovirus in a home, it is better not to have puppies for a number of years afterwards.
Once your vet has diagnosed Parvo through the clinical signs, blood work, or a test called an ELISA, Parvo treatment will need to begin immediately. While there is no cure, supportive care can be offered to treat the symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. Ensuring that your dog gets the right nutrition is vital. Hospitalization is likely to be required. Intravenous fluids can help to prevent dehydration, as well as controlling vomiting.
When your dog has a serious condition like Parvo, this weakens the immune system, as well as lowering white blood cell counts. As you would expect, this makes your pooch more likely to develop other bacterial infections. These may be able to be combated by antibiotics.
It is worth in mind that Parvo is potentially fatal. Survival rates range between 68 and 92 percent. Recovery times depend on how serious the case is, but it takes around one week for puppies to recover if they survive the first three or four days.
After diagnosis, your vet should discuss proper treatment steps, as well as any precautions that you need to take involving other canines around. Your dog will need to be put in isolation away from other animals. Also, anyone treating affected dogs will need to wear special shoes and clothes. Bear in mind that this level of treatment is likely to get expensive after a while due to its intensity.
While you may be able to treat the virus in your own home, it is going to take a lot of hard work. You will have to be taught how to administer fluids and monitor the vital signs of your dog.
After your dog has recovered from Parvo, their immune system will still be weakened. Susceptibility to other illnesses is possible, so you need to take special care. Your pooch will need to eat high-quality and digestible food. You will need to isolate your dog to prevent them from infecting other pooches, and any other dog owners in the area need to be alerted about the possibility of infection.
After recovery, long-term parvovirus immunity is developed, but future infection is still possible at some point down the line.
The first stage of prevention is Parvo shots in dogs, but even this doesn’t mean 100% protection if you were wondering can a vaccinated dog get Parvo. Vaccines are usually given in three doses during a puppy’s youth, beginning at six weeks of age, and another two after 10 weeks. Booster shots are then given a year later, and every three years afterwards.
Unvaccinated puppies should not be exposed to unvaccinated dogs. While you may want to show your new dog off, you need to keep him or her protected until full vaccination is achieved. Puppy classes tend to require proof of vaccination before enrollment. While these are useful in socialization, you need to ensure that your dog is in a safe environment.
Some high-risk breeds of dog need longer vaccination periods of up to 22 weeks. During this period, your puppy should socialize in private with other known dogs. You can invite these dogs into your home or go round to visit the other dogs. But all public areas such as the dog park should be avoided as you cannot guarantee which dogs have been vaccinated and which haven’t
Knowledge is another important part of preventing the spread of Parvo as you know the necessary steps to take to give your pooch the best protection. Speak to your vet if you think that you need further information on the subject.
A good habit to get into is to always pick up your dog’s poop straight away as this helps to reduce the risk of environmental contamination.
As we have made clear throughout this blog post, the Parvo dog disease is a very serious condition which can have serious consequences. Prevention is obviously better than the cure, so take all the appropriate steps to protect your pooch. If you do suspect that your dog has been infected, you need to take immediate action to give them the very best chance of recovery. Not only is this important for your own dog’s health, but it is vital for all canines too.