Parvovirus is an extremely contagious, often deadly, virus that spreads through contact with infected dogs or contaminated objects. But you can protect your four-legged friend against this life-threatening disease, our Tucson vets explain how.

A Potentially Deadly Threat to Your Dog's Health

Often referred to as simply 'parvo' parvovirus is an extremely serious, highly contagious, virus that leads to severe gastrointestinal symptoms in puppies and unvaccinated adult dogs.

Parvo is spread through traces of feces from infected dogs. Containing the spread of parvo in unvaccinated dogs is challenging because dogs that are infected with the virus but have not yet begun to exhibit symptoms are able to spread the disease as easily as dogs with symptoms, or those who have recently recovered.

In fact, this condition 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 lead to the spread of a life-threatening illness!

And yet, it is even more infectious than that! Direct contact with an infected dog is not necessary for the disease to be transmitted. This virus can also be easily transmitted by touching contaminated leashes, bowls, toys, bedding and more.

How Dog Parvovirus Attacks Your Pup's Body

Parvo is a gastrointestinal 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.

Why Puppies Face An Increased Risk From Parvovirus

If your puppy's mother is fully vaccinated against Parvo her puppies will inherit antibodies from her that will protect them against the virus for the first 6 weeks of their lives. 

Nonetheless, at about 6 weeks as the puppies begin to wean, their immune systems will weaken and they become susceptible to Parvo and other diseases.

Vets urge all dog owners to begin vaccinating their puppy against Parvo at 6 weeks of age when the puppy begins to wean and the antibodies from the mother are no longer available to protect the puppy.

Puppies are most at risk of contracting parvovirus in the short period of time between weaning and when the full immunity provided by vaccinations kicks in.

Your puppy must receive all 3 Parvo vaccinations in order to be protected against this potentially deadly condition. We strongly recommend that you keep your puppy safely away from other dogs until they have received all of their vaccines.

When To Get Your Puppy Vaccinated Against Parvo

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 you can guard your four-legged friend's health and the health of other dogs in your household and neighborhood.

Symptoms of Parvovirus in Dogs

It is essential to understand that once your puppy begins showing symptoms they are already very sick with Parvo. Dog Parvovirus symptoms can become very severe quickly. If you notice that your puppy is displaying any of the following symptoms call your vet immediately.

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

Treatment for Puppies & Adult Dogs with Parvo

There is no cure for Parvo in puppies, however your vet will offer supportive treatments to address symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. It is essential that your pup gets adequate hydration and nutrition in order to recover from this life-threatening disease.

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 puppy or adult dog is being treated by a vet and survives the first four days after symptoms appear, there is a good chance that your dog will recover from the disease. It typically takes about a week for dogs to recover from Parvo.

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

Protect Your Four-Legged Family Member Against Parvovirus

Never allow your puppy to spend time around dogs that have not been fully vaccinated against Parvovirus. While socialization is essential for young dogs it is important to know that the dogs that your puppy spends time with are fully vaccinated 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.

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.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Our Tucson vets are here to help your dog live a long, happy and healthy life. Contact Cortaro Farms Pet Hospital today to book a vaccination appointment for your canine companion.