Parvovirus thrives in warmer months

Springtime…parvo time

We all love spring. During warmer months we see beautiful carpets of flowers everywhere and a new life in the air.

Unfortunately, during springtime, there is an influx of puppies with parvovirus at the vets. Although it is not a strictly seasonal disease the prevalence is higher in the warmer months.

What is canine parvo?

  • Parvo is a type of virus.
  • It is spread through their infected feces.
  • It can survive for up to 6 months on clothing, food bowls, and cage floors - in the right conditions.
  • Insects and rodents can help with the spread of the disease.
  • It usually takes 7-14 days for the disease to become symptomatic.
  • A quick test (<10 minutes) at your vet on a fresh poop sample can detect the virus.

What are the symptoms?

  • It can affect any unvaccinated dog but is mainly a disease of puppies less than 6 months of age.
  • The most common symptoms are:
  1. vomiting,
  2. bloody diarrhea,
  3. abdominal pain,
  4. lethargy
  5. decrease appetite
  6. in severe cases, puppies may have a fever,
  7. your vet will be able to notice a lowered white blood cell count.
  • In rare cases complications can lead to bone marrow suppression and inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis).
  • Your pet could die if not treated.

Parvovirus treatment:

The treatment depends on the severity of the disease.  Being a viral infection, treatment is supportive to give the pup’s body time to fight the virus.

It may include an intravenous drip, antibiotics, anti-nausea medication, and pain control. Puppies with dehydration and persistent vomiting will need to be admitted to the hospital and usually take 3-10 days to recover.

With intensive care most puppies will survive this infection but complications are possible. Puppies may develop sepsis, bone marrow suppression and intestinal obstruction due to the effect of the virus.

How to protect your puppy against contracting parvo

  • Vaccination is highly effective to decrease your pup’s risk of contracting life-threatening parvovirus infection – but it does not guarantee 100% protection.
  • Do not take new puppies to public places until the pup has received all three vaccines against the parvovirus.
  • When introducing a new pup to your household make sure your other dogs are fully vaccinated and keep the pup away from them for the first 7 days to monitor for any development of parvo. Especially if the new dog is from a questionable background.
  • If your dog had parvovirus infection ensure proper disinfection of the house and yard with a veterinary-approved disinfectant (not all household disinfectant agents will kill parvovirus). Parvovirus can survive for up to 6 months on objects in the right conditions.
  • If you had contact with a dog with diarrhea – wash your hands and change your shoes and clothes before you go home to your dogs.

Can I get a Parvovirus?

The canine parvovirus is a highly contagious and potentially deadly disease that wreaks havoc on a dog’s intestinal tract. While some diseases are capable of crossing over from one species to another and causing infection, the parvovirus is not one of them. A human variant of the parvovirus does exist but its transmission is only possible from one human to another just like the canine parvovirus is only transmittable between animals in the canine family.

What is the human role in transmitting Parvovirus Disease?

Dogcare says: Although humans cannot catch the parvovirus from dogs, they can and often do play a major role in spreading the disease in the dog population. The canine parvovirus is an extremely hardy disease that can live in a dormant but infectious state in the environment for one year or longer. When people handle dogs that may be infected with the parvovirus at shelters, kennels, animal clinics or dog parks and then pet another dog before thoroughly washing their hands, they unwittingly infect otherwise healthy dogs with the virus particles that they carried over from the infected dog.


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