Getting a puppy is one of the most exciting things a person does in their lifetime. It opens up a whole new world of fun, love, and adventures with a furry companion. That said, the last thing anyone wants to hear is, “Your puppy has parvo.” How did this happen, and how can it be avoided?
Parvo is relatively common in unvaccinated puppies under four months of age. They can contract the virus from any surface containing parvo, including floors, leashes, clothing, bedding, etc. Getting your puppy vaccinated ASAP, disinfecting the home with bleach, and keeping your puppy away from the ground and unvaccinated dogs is key to prevention.
You’ve landed on the right article if you’re curious about puppies and parvo. Below, you will find critical information about what parvo is, what the first signs and symptoms are, and how to prevent it from happening in the first place.
What is Parvovirus?
Before diving into how your puppy can get parvo and how to avoid it, it’s essential to know what parvo (Canine Parvovirus) is.
Canine parvovirus – which is commonly shortened to “parvo” – is a contagious virus that affects the gastrointestinal tract of hounds, primarily unvaccinated and puppies under four months old. It is particularly deadly, with a fatality rate of a whopping 80%.
Parvo begins by infecting the tonsils and lymph nodes, then travels through the bloodstream, attacking the cells. This leads to the destruction of essential cells in the small intestine, barring nutrient absorption and encouraging bacteria growth and fluid loss.
Eventually, and without treatment, the intestines will become so damaged they will no longer be able to block bacterial growth and penetration into the bloodstream. As the bacteria spread, the hound will become sicker and unable to fight the virus.
Parvo can be treated, but pet owners must act fast. An untreated hound may die from dehydration or septic shock.
Parvo can be found just about anywhere (feces from an infected hound, bedding, grass, etc.) and is easily transmitted to susceptible canines. The virus does not die in extreme temperatures and is resistant to most disinfectants, making it a very potent virus.
What Are the First Signs of Parvo in a Puppy?
A puppy with contracted parvo will show signs of the illness within three and ten days of contact. It is essential to know the signs and symptoms to get your young puppy help right away and avoid further infection – or even death.
Some of the symptoms specific to parvo in puppies include:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Vomiting with or without blood
- Extreme lethargy and dehydration
- Sudden weight loss
While these are all tall-tell parvo symptoms, they could also indicate other types of common illnesses in puppies. So, if your puppy is showing any of the signs mentioned above, it’s crucial to contact your veterinarian ASAP.
How Likely is a Puppy to Get Parvo?
Puppies under four months of age are more likely to get parvo as they will not have had their complete vaccination series. The good news is that there are many ways to prevent your puppy from contracting parvo.
How to Prevent My Puppy From Getting Parvo?
Knowing that young puppies are susceptible to the virus – and that the virus could potentially be fatal – is cause for concern for new pet owners. But being proactive about preventing the virus will lower the chances of transmission. Here are some of the best ways to fend off parvo.
Get Your Hound Vaccinated
The best way to prevent your puppy from getting parvo is to get them vaccinated on time. The first dose is given between six and eight weeks of age. Additional doses are given every three weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks old. A final booster shot is provided at the one-year mark. It is recommended to continue getting your dog boosted every three years for added protection.
Limit Exposure to Unvaccinated Hounds
Your puppy should not be around unvaccinated dogs until after receiving two shots. After that, they will have higher immunity to the virus, but you should still be wary about who your puppy is around in the meantime.
Keep in mind that vaccinated dogs can still carry the virus. That said, you should avoid taking your puppy to places such as dog parks and pet stores where they can potentially come in contact with parvo from another animal.
Don’t Let Your Puppy on the Ground in Public Places
It’s best to stay at home with your new pooch as much as possible. However, going into public places is sometimes inevitable – for example, you need to take your puppy to the veterinarian to get their vaccinations.
If you’re going out in public, it’s best to keep your puppy in your arms. A puppy is more likely to contract parvo from the ground, so keep them off the floor – inside and outside – until they are fully vaccinated.
Clean With Bleach
As mentioned earlier, parvo is a dominant virus that regular disinfectants or extreme temperatures cannot kill. The only way to kill the parvovirus is by using bleach. You can mix a bleach and water solution to clean your home, including the floors, countertops, and other surfaces your new puppy may come in contact with.
Don’t Bring a New Dog Home
While getting another dog soon after getting your puppy might be tempting, it’s not a good idea for your young pup. Wait until your dog is fully vaccinated against parvo before bringing in new furry family members.
Deworm Your Dog
Now, deworming your dog won’t stop the virus in its tracks, but it will benefit your puppy. Intestinal worms can weaken your dog’s immune system, making them more susceptible to parvo and less equipped to fight the virus. Therefore, deworm your dog to strengthen its immune system.
Get Help ASAP
The easiest way to prevent fatality from parvo is to act fast. Parvo causes illness in hounds swiftly. If you wait too long, your dog will have a less fighting chance – especially if they are unvaccinated or under the age of four months.
Know the signs (listed above). If you notice any symptoms of parvo, get your puppy help ASAP.
Can a Puppy Survive Parvo?
Puppies can survive parvo, but pet owners must act fast. Treatment must be done before the onset of severe side effects like septicemia or severe dehydration. If you notice any symptoms of this virus, it’s essential to see a veterinarian right away. Puppies that survive the initial three days after contracting parvo are more likely to survive and make a full recovery.
How to Treat Parvo?
There is no treatment for parvovirus. Instead, the veterinarian will work to diminish the destruction caused by parvo in an effort to encourage full recovery. The veterinarian will do the following to “treat” parvo:
- Fluid IV. The first step is to administer intravenous fluids to combat dehydration and electrolyte imbalance caused by vomiting and diarrhea.
- Antibiotics. Next, the vet will administer antibiotics to stop the onset of septicemia.
- Medications. Lastly, medication will be given to your hound to prevent vomiting and diarrhea, which will protect the digestive tract from further damage. They may also be given an antacid.
How Do I Know if My Puppy Will Survive Parvo?
There is no “true” way of knowing whether or not your puppy will survive parvo. However, as a basic rule of thumb, if a puppy survives the first three days after contracting parvo, they are more likely to survive. Therefore, quick treatment is critical. Don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian if you notice any parvo symptoms.
Can Adult Dogs Get Parvo?
Adult dogs can get parvo if they are unvaccinated or have a compromised immune system. The older your hound gets, the more susceptible they can become to certain illnesses like parvo, too.
However, it is more common for puppies to contract the virus, especially if they are younger than four months old or are not fully vaccinated.
Can Vaccinated Dogs Get Parvo?
It is highly unlikely for a vaccinated dog to get parvo, but not impossible. Therefore, it’s still essential to get your hound help if they show any signs or symptoms of the virus.
Remember that fully vaccinated dogs can also spread the virus, even if they do not get sick themselves.
For example, a vaccinated canine can step in feces contaminated with parvovirus. Then, they walk around in the grass or touch their collar. These surfaces contain the virus, which could be potentially dangerous to an unvaccinated or immune-compromised canine.
Parvo is a potent virus that could be fatal, especially to unvaccinated puppies under four months of age. During these first few months of life, protect your puppy by staying away from other dogs, keeping them off surfaces, and getting them dewormed. If you notice any signs of parvo, get your hound help ASAP. The sooner you get help, the higher chance of survival your puppy will have.
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