Canine Parvovirus and It's Prevention
Dr. Christina Frick, DVM
Vaccinations have prevented disease in millions of pets for many years. Unfortunately, some people still are not vaccinating and these animals are spreading disease risks to your pets. Vaccination is inexpensive protection against costly treatment or premature death of your pet. Yearly Booster Immunizations are necessary to continue protection.
Canine parvovirus is a viral disease that was first reported in early 1978. It is highly contagious and life- threatening, especially in puppies. Dr. Frick has been seeing this virus in many puppies this spring. Here are the facts and how to protect your dog.
PARVO SIGNS: Intestinal Form includes Diarrhea with or without blood & a bad odor, Vomiting, Loss of Appetite, Depression, Fever &/or Death. It also has a heart form with signs of sudden death, crying, difficulty breathing, extreme depression, weakness, unwillingness to nurse, irregular heartbeat. These signs can range from mild to unapparent to very severe. Usually more severe in young dogs 1 month- 12 months old or old dogs. Especially worse in unvaccinated puppies. The younger the dog, and if not vaccinated, the greater chance it will not recover. If they do recover, these dogs are often weak and more susceptible to other diseases.
If you see any signs, the dog needs medical attention immediately.
SPECIES AFFECTED: Any breed, Age or Sex of Dogs. There are some breeds we do see parvo infection more commonly. Direct transmission occurs when an infected dog comes in contact with a healthy dog. The virus is in the infected dog's stool at 30 billion parvovirus particles in every ounce of feces. Clinical signs occur 3 weeks after a dog becomes infected with the virus. Dogs may carry the virus on their hair & feet. The environment can infect dogs for many months once shed in the stool.
TRANSMISSION: the virus spreads on shoes, clothing, rugs, bedding, & other inanimate objects. Fleas, as well as people, can spread it to other places.
FACTORS that can affect severity of infection: Age, environment, Stress, Parasites and General Health Status.
PARVOVIRUS FACTS: Very Hardy Virus, Resistant to extreme temperatures (it survives freezing & extreme heat)
TREATMENT: Early, vigorous treatment is imperative & may save lives. Vomiting and diarrhea leads to dehydration. Fluid therapy is important for possible survival.
CONTROL: Sanitation is key. One Part Diluted Chlorox to 30 parts water has been effective in disinfecting objects such as clothing, floors, & kennels. However it is impractical, if not impossible, to disinfect public streets, parks, etc. Isolation of infected dogs is moderately effective due to already exposing other dogs in environment.
PREVENTION: Only vaccination will control the actual source of infection before infection or clinical signs begin. A properly immunized dog will have circulating antibodies in the blood that will destroy Parvovirus following exposure. If you have a Parvo dog, owners need to Booster Vaccinations of all other dogs in the contaminated environment. Notify neighbors that your dog has Parvo and make sure their dogs are properly immunized.
Maternal antibodies are passed from the mother to the puppies through first milk and provide temporary immunity. So vaccinate dogs prior to breeding. Start vaccinating puppies at 6-8 weeks of age and continue to booster until 16-18 weeks old. Dr. Frick will set up an individual schedule for your dog. Dogs remain highly contagious to Parvovirus until 2 weeks after the last injection of the puppy vaccination series. Vaccines are not guaranteed to prevent disease because too many variables are involved. But usually effective 99% once the series is complete.
Do not take new pups on walks in public parks, neighbor yards, or ball parks until the vaccination series of shots is finished. Do not expose your new dog to other dogs any more than is absolute necessary. They can still get sick between vaccinations.
Set up an appointment as soon as your family gets a new dog. Dr. Frick can look at the records and determine when they are due for shots next or if they have had anything at all, or was it a good vaccine with a high titer to parvo that was used. Make sure and get all the records from the Breeder, Friend or Humane Society and bring to the appointment.
Call Frick Vet Service is update all your pets on their yearly vaccinations, new animal vaccinations and general wellness exams. Prevention is the best medicine to have your pets live a long & healthy life with your family.