What exactly is Canine Parvovirus?
We're sure you've heard or seen the dreaded posts on Facebook about their beloved dog dying or surviving from parvovirus. Oftentimes, you'll see posts with bloody stool samples or dogs clinging to life. Canine Parvovirus or simply known as Parvo is a preventable highly contagious viral infection that affects a dog’s gastrointestinal tract and specifically targets the small intestine, which then causes severe diarrhea (bloody), vomiting, dehydration, and other symptoms. If Parvo is left untreated, not only can you easily infect other dogs, but this illness can potentially lead to death.
Unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated dogs between the ages of six weeks to six months are most at risk of contracting Parvo. There is currently NO CURE to Parvo.
What causes Parvo?
Parvo is typically spread through direct contact with an infected dog or through feces. Since dogs use their nose and mouth to explore the world, this would be the primary mode of transmission. An infected dog can be a carrier for even up to 10 days after he or she has recovered but can start being contagious 4 to 5 days after the initial exposure, which is why quarantine and isolation are a must for dogs infected with Parvo.
The Parvo virus can withstand common household disinfectants and can live on surfaces for two months if indoors. In outdoor environments, Parvo can last for months or even years. So why do some dogs get Parvo despite no outside exposure? Check your shoes! Sometimes, you may have unknowingly stepped on dog feces and brought it home with you.
What are the symptoms Parvo?
If any or all of these symptoms show on your dog, we urge you to contact a veterinarian as soon as you can.
The most common symptoms are:
- Severe, bloody diarrhea
- Weight loss
How do you treat Parvo?
If your dog has Parvo, he or she will likely be confined as this disease can be fatal if not treated properly. Not only will you avoid other dogs getting sick, but confinement also means he or she will be monitored by your veterinarian, which should result in a better outcome. It’s important to monitor their health for secondary infections due to Parvo lowering white blood count. Medication such as antibiotics may be prescribed as well as IV fluids and other supportive medication to fight off any secondary infections. There is no cure for Parvo, so managing their symptoms is crucial to your dog's survival.
Skip posting on Facebook asking for advice from strangers and leave it to the veterinarians who have dedicated years studying in order to save lives. Stick to science-backed methods of treating your dog. Eggs, supplements, and live culture aren’t medication and should not replace actual medical advice. Don’t cheap out on your dog’s life. Always question products sold to you as a cure to Parvo. Remember, this deadly disease doesn't have a cure, but symptoms can be treated. Avoid herbal or homeopathic supplements because odds are, these don't have any proven medical benefits.
How do you prevent Parvo?
Although vaccination is never a guarantee, it is the best way to prevent this disease. If your puppy is unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated, avoid dog parks or dog hotels. Always clean your surroundings and don’t let your puppy lick your shoes!