Parvovirus is a highly contagious and often fatal virus that is passed from dog to dog through contact with infected dogs or contaminated objects like bowls or toys. Our Los Angeles veterinarians have compiled a list of parvovirus facts that you should be aware of in order to keep your four-legged friend healthy.

The Spread of Canine Parvovirus 'Parvo'

Puppies and unvaccinated dogs of all ages are susceptible to parvovirus, a highly contagious virus that causes severe gastrointestinal symptoms. The virus is spread by traces of infected dogs' feces. Asymptomatic dogs, those who have been infected but have not yet developed symptoms, as well as dogs who have developed symptoms and those who have recently recovered from the disease, can all spread Parvo.

Because the disease is so contagious, a person who comes into contact with an infected dog unknowingly can pass the virus on to puppies and other dogs simply by touching them. A loving pat on the head, for example, could be the start of a life-threatening illness.

Other common sources of contamination are leashes, bowls, toys, and bedding.

How Parvovirus Attacks Your Dog's Body

Parvo is a disease that affects the stomach and small intestine. The virus starts destroying the dog's gut barrier here, attacking healthy cells and preventing essential nutrients from being absorbed.

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.

Why Puppies Are Susceptible to 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 that their immune systems weaken and the young pups become susceptible to the disease.

Veterinarians recommend that pet parents start vaccinating their puppies against Parvo at 6 weeks of age when the puppy begins to wean and the mother's antibodies are no longer effective in protecting the puppy.

The young dog will not be protected against the disease until they have received all three Parvo vaccinations. Puppies are most likely to contract Parvo during the time between weaning and full vaccination.

Your puppy should receive their vaccines against Parvovirus at 6, 8, and 12 weeks of age. If you are a pet parent, having your puppy vaccinated against Parvovirus is one of the best ways your can guard the health of your new companion and the health of other dogs in your household and neighborhood.

Symptoms of Parvo 

It's critical to realize that once your puppy starts to show symptoms, they're already very sick. If you notice any of the symptoms listed below in your puppy, contact your veterinarian right away.

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Depression

Treatment for Parvovirus in Puppies

Although there is no cure for Parvo in puppies, your veterinarian can provide supportive treatment for symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. In order to recover from Parvovirus, it is critical that your dog receives adequate hydration and nutrition.

Because secondary infections are common in puppies with Parvo (due to their weakened immune systems), your veterinarian will keep an eye on your puppy's progress and may prescribe antibiotics to help combat any bacterial infections that develop.

There is a good chance that your puppy will recover from the disease if he or she is treated by a veterinarian and survives the first four days after symptoms appear. Parvo in dogs usually lasts about a week to recover from.

If your puppy is diagnosed with Canine Parvovirus it is essential to take steps to isolate your puppy from other animals and always wash your hands thoroughly after being near your young dog.

Preventing Parvo 

Allowing your puppy to be around dogs who have not been fully vaccinated against Parvovirus is never a good idea. While socialization is important for young dogs, it's also crucial to ensure that the dogs with whom your puppy interacts are fully vaccinated and do not pose a health risk. Consult your veterinarian for advice on how to best protect your new four-legged family member.

Be sure to follow your vet's advice and have your puppy vaccinated against Parvo, rabies, and other potentially serious conditions based on a puppy vaccination schedule for your area.

If your puppy or unvaccinated dog is showing any signs of illness or symptoms of Parvovirus contact us immediately! Your pup's life could depend upon it.