Canine Parvovirus is a highly contagious & absolutely deadly viral disease that affects dogs, especially puppies.
It's most common victims are young puppies who have not been fully vaccinated.
Most un-vaccinated puppies who catch Parvo will die without prompt and comprehensive veterinary care. The mortality rate for this virus is high.
BUT here's the good news:
In fact, the best protection you can give your new pup is to have him vaccinated according to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) recommendations for puppy shots.
This is HUGELY important and the number one, very best way, to keep your baby safe.
All the information you need to protect your puppy is on this page!
Please take the time to read it because it could mean the difference between life and death... and I'm not exaggerating!
I have seen Parvo in action, and it's devastating.
Please do everything you can to make sure your precious pup doesn't become a victim.
Every puppy owner needs to be aware of the most common symptoms of a Parvo infection so that they can get immediate veterinary help if their pet shows signs of sickness.
The most common symptoms include:
BUT, you need to know that all of these symptoms can appear in other illnesses as well, and it's not possible to diagnose Parvo on the basis of symptoms alone.
The only way to know for sure if Canine Parvovirus is what's making your pup sick is to have your veterinarian run some tests.
A fecal test (when your vet tests a sample of your puppy's feces for the virus) is often used, and a blood serum test is also available.
Both of these tests can give provide a quick answer, but they can also show 'false negatives' (ie no virus shows up in the tested sample).
This type of test can also show a 'false positive' if your pup has been vaccinated with the live vaccine within the previous 2 weeks.
So, let your vet know when his last vaccinations were given.
There's more than one strain of Parvo, and each one can affect a pup differently.
There is a strain that targets the heart and can result in very sudden death. This is most often seen in very young puppies (under 8 weeks old).
First seen in the late 1960's, scientists and researchers are aware that different strains of Parvo are constantly evolving and emerging.
Recently a new strain (CPV-C2)was discovered in the USA, which affects both vaccinated, adult dogs as well as puppies (it also seems to be able to be transmitted to cats).Strains which have a cardiac component can cause sudden death by heart attack/heart failure, usually totally unexpectedly, and sometimes in a puppy who seems to be recovering from the initial symptoms.
It is transmitted through contact with the feces of an infected/sick dog.
Canine Parvovirus is HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS, just one stool contains millions of live virus cells and can infect many dogs/puppies.
The virus can be found in the stools of infected puppies several days before any symptoms show up, and for at least 2 weeks after a puppy has completely recovered.
Obviously if your puppy licks or eats the stools of a pup/dog who has Parvo then he's going to be infected as well. But this disease is so easily transmitted, and so virulent, that your pup only has to come in contact with a very tiny amount of infected material to get sick.
For example if he gets just a little feces on his paws or coat, and then cleans them by licking, he's going to get sick.
If you get some of the virus on your hands, shoes or clothing and then your pup comes in contact with them, he's going to get sick.
If he sniffs or licks a dog who's been infected, chances are he's going to get sick.
So, in addition to making sure your pup gets all his shots taken care of on time, you need to make sure that Fido doesn't come in contact with any puppies or dogs who could be sick until he's fully vaccinated.
That also means keeping him away from any public areas where other dogs might have access (such as parks, playgrounds, highway rest areas, stores, city sidewalks...) and only allowing him to be around older puppies and dogs who are fully vaccinated.
YOU need to be extra careful too. Don't wear your outdoor shoes inside the house and wash your hands carefully after being in contact with other dogs.
Other animals can unintentionally spread Parvo, and if you live in the country you need to be extra careful about this. Birds and small mammals can carry the virus on their paws and track it through your yard.Of course it's impossible to completely eliminate this kind of risk, but do keep your puppy in a well fenced area that isn't accessible to wild animals, and don't allow him to run around an acreage or fields until he's had all his shots.
Because Parvo is a virus, it can't be cured with antibiotics, but antibiotics are used to treat the secondary infections that usually go hand-in-hand with this disease.
The main treatment for canine parvovirus is hospitalization where your pup/dog can get...
This is called 'supportive care'.
Statistics show that around 80% of puppies will die from Parvo if they're not treated quickly, this type of care is absolutely essential if you want your puppy to have the best possible chance of survival.
It's vitally important to get the treatment started right away, that's why any puppy who's showing sudden onset symptoms of diarrhea and/or vomiting and who seems lethargic or disinterested in food or his surroundings, needs to be seen by a vet IMMEDIATELY.
Even a 24 hour delay wait could cost your precious baby his life.
Individual puppies can react quite differently to this disease,
and although early diagnosis and treatment is vital, it's not a
guarantee of recovery.
The most acute phase of the illness usually lasts somewhere between 7 and 14 days, and if a puppy survives this long he has a good chance of making a full recovery.
Some puppies can get very, very sick for a fairly long period of time, but eventually recover.
Others can get sick extremely quickly, and die just as quickly. Still others can get sick, appear to be improving and then die unexpectedly.
The lucky ones are very sick for almost 2 weeks and then slowly regain their strength and start on the path back to normal life.
It's not always the biggest 'strongest' puppies that win the battle either, you simply can't tell by looking.
Because you obviously will want to do whatever it takes to save your precious pet if he gets sick, vet care isn't an option, it's an absolute necessity.
But you do need to know that the level of care needed to give a pup a fighting chance is comprehensive and expensive, but it's his only chance.
Having a pet dog health insurance plan in place can help prevent your credit card from being maxxed out, or your savings account from being decimated if your little one gets sick.
This is why it's so important to get your pup to a vet immediately if you are even slightly concerned that he may have contracted Canine Parvovirus.
Although your little one may have survived the disease itself, he will probably look a very sorry sight when you get him home.
He will most likely have lost most of his body fat, and his head and paws will look much too big for his frame. His eyes may still be dull, he'll have little appetite and be very tired.
This can be quite frightening, but it's perfectly normal. He's been through a terrible ordeal and needs time to rest and recover.
Give him plenty of chance to sleep and rest, that's how his body will repair itself.
Don't worry too much about his appetite, offer good nutritious food and let him eat what he wants. His appetite will come back as he starts to feel better.
Do make sure he gets plenty of water, and you can even add unflavored Pedialyte to his water if he'll drink it.
In spite of his initial condition, you'll be surprised how quickly your puppy will 'bounce back' if he's managed to fight off the canine parvovirus.
Within a few weeks his little body will start to fill out, his appetite and strength will return and soon he'll be his old self again.
He'll also have a life-long immunity to canine parvovirus!
I recently got an email from a visitor to my site, Dawn, who has had her own experience with Parvo. She wanted to share this information with other puppy parents in the hope that it may help....
I think Dawn has a very good point there, and after a battle with Parvo a puppy certainly needs all the help he can get. Anything that can help rebuild his immune system has got to be a plus.
A pro-biotic product especially designed for dogs and cats such as Only Natural Pet Probiotic Blend is another excellent way to help restore the balance of microbes in your pets' digestive system.Thanks Dawn for taking the time to share your experience. I appreciate it.
It's important to know that the parvo virus itself is extremely hardy and difficult to 'kill'.
It can live on multiple surfaces and in the ground for a long period of time.
When in the soil, canine parvovirus is not dramatically affected by heat, rain, cold, frost or any other climatic condition. If the ground is frozen it basically puts the virus into a 'dormant' state and when the ground thaws there is still a risk of contamination.
If you don't treat/disinfect the ground, this is what you can expect....
Areas in direct sunlight - contamination lasts approx. 6 months, but could be longer
Areas in shade - contamination lasts approx. 8 months to 1 year
Parvovirus becomes inactive much more quickly indoors than it does outside. Normally contamination will last for approximately 1 - 3 months inside your home.
Obviously, if your pup has had Parvo and survived, he's no longer at risk from the re-contamination but other un-vaccinated dogs and puppies could easily become infected if they come into contact with the live virus in the ground.
Although it's impossible to say that anything will completely destroy parvo-virus, the most effective decontamination method is to use a solution of household bleach and water.
You can clean everything - floors, toys, walls, crates etc. - with a bleach/water solution (a 1:30 solution is often suggested, personally I would tend to make it a little stronger, perhaps 1:20).
You can also spray or soak the ground outside with this same strength solution and use it to clean any concrete/asphalt areas your puppy may have used.
It's important to make sure the bleach:water solution remains on the surfaces/objects that you're cleaning for at least 20 minutes.
Soak bowls, toys, mats and so on in the solution if possible, or at least wipe over thoroughly and don't dry off right away. You can rinse and dry them after the 20 minutes is up.
Although it's not practical for many surfaces/objects, steam-cleaning is a form of sterilization that will deactivate the parvo virus.It's always a good idea to steam clean carpets if you've had an infected puppy in the home. The fibers in carpets can trap traces of the virus which may remain active for several months.
There are two main ways that you can protect your pup from catching Canine Parvovirus in the first place (and as you've seen, that is much preferable than trying to treat it!).....
Getting the proper vaccinations, at the right time, are the #1 best way to protect your pup from Parvo.
A full series of shots need to be given before your little guy (or gal) is fully protected. These need to be given 3 times over a period of about 6 - 8 weeks.
But one set of shots, or even two, is no guarantee of immunity, even pups who have started their vaccinations are still at risk until all 3 sets have been given.
It's also good to remember that immunity doesn't happen the instant that third shot is given.
I'd recommend waiting at least 48 hours before taking your pup out and about, just to be safe.
Also, there are some breeds, notably Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers and Pitbulls (and other black-and-tan and bully-type breeds), that seem to be especially vulnerable to Parvovirus.
This is because they have a genetic predisposition to this disease and are more likely to catch it - and die from it.
Even when fully vaccinated these breeds don't always reach a level of protection that most others will.
For puppies of these breeds, it's recommended that they get a fourth canine parvovirus vaccination at around 16 weeks (can be done at the same time as the Rabies shot)