If you’ve ever seen a dog struggle through parvovirus, then you know that it’s a truly terrible and potentially fatal disease. With spring on the horizon, parvo season is about to begin, and it’s imperative that your pet is protected.
Proper prevention, quick recognition of the symptoms, and early treatment can mean the difference between life and death for your dog. Here’s what you need to know to give your pet the best chance against parvo:
Know the Symptoms
Parvo can cause symptoms like lethargy, fever or low body temperature, loss of appetite, and loss of interest in favorite activities. But the most telling symptoms are consistent vomiting and diarrhea.
Most dog owners have helped their pets through harmless bouts of these stomach issues before, but parvo-related vomiting and diarrhea are something altogether different.
Dogs with parvo often produce deep brown to black diarrhea that is completely liquid in nature and often contains blood. Parvo-related vomit is usually yellowish in color and has a foamy, milky, or slimy texture. Both are extremely foul-smelling.
Early Treatment is Key
If your dog is exhibiting these symptoms, act swiftly. Dogs— especially puppies— with parvo rarely survive if they are left untreated. However, professional treatment with a vet bumps the survival rate to around 70% for adult dogs and somewhat less for puppies.
The sooner they are seen, the better the odds for survival. Because parvo is a virus and not a bacteria, no real cure exists. Parvo-infected dogs usually refuse to eat or drink, so treatment involves IV nutritional therapy and fluids to prevent dehydration and sometimes medications to curb vomiting and diarrhea. Your pet will usually need to stay at the vet or animal hospital for several days before he begins to recover.
Remember, parvo symptoms appear suddenly, and the disease can become fatal quickly, especially for puppies. If you even suspect that your dog might have parvo, call your vet immediately.
Vaccines are Life-Saving
The best way to prevent parvo is to vaccinate your pet on schedule. For most puppies, this means vaccines should begin at 6-8 weeks and boosters should be administered according to your vet’s recommendations.
When adopting older dogs, it’s still important to make sure they’ve had a full round of parvo vaccines. Their immune system might be more mature, but this doesn’t make them totally immune to parvo or other diseases.
No matter how busy your schedule or how tight your budget, don’t neglect to get your pet’s shots on time. Parvo treatment is grueling and expensive. Vaccines are quick, cheap, and effective.
Parvo Hides in the Soil
You may think that your dog can only catch parvo if she’s exposed to another infected dog. The truth is the parvovirus is extremely resilient and can live in the soil and on surfaces for several years. So your pup can catch it even if she’s never been anywhere near a sick animal.
In fact, it’s so tough to kill that puppies shouldn’t even enter homes where a dog has had parvo within the last two years.
For these reasons, some pet parents mistake parvo for poisoning or a simple upset stomach and delay getting proper treatment. Remember, even if you pup hasn’t been exposed to infected dogs or feces, those symptoms could still be parvo. Don’t wait to get help.
Follow Dog Park Rules
Most dog parks don’t allow any puppies under two to four months of age. It might be tempting to ignore those rules— after all, what’s cuter than a puppy romping around with a pack of new friends? But those guidelines exist to protect the health of your furry friend.
With hundreds or even thousands of dogs roaming through the area every year, dog parks are a breeding ground for parvo and other diseases like distemper and bordetella. Puppies need time for their vaccines to take effect and for their immune systems to mature before they can safely be exposed to these pathogens.
It’s best to avoid similar environments like kennels, doggy daycares, parks, and pet stores until your vet has given you the green light.
It’s Most Common in Spring and Summer
Dogs can contract parvo at any time, but the disease is most common in the spring and summer months. Take extra precautions around this time to keep puppies and unvaccinated dogs away from infected animals and public areas like parks.
Parvovirus is a horrible disease, but the good news is it’s easily preventable. Follow proper vaccine schedules and keep young puppies away from high-risk areas, and you’ll likely never have to deal with it at all.
And if you do notice parvo symptoms, remember that acting quickly will give your dog his or her best chance at survival. Schedule an appointment with Crossroads Animal Clinic if you’re worried your furry friend might need their parvo shots.
Worried about your pets vaccinations? Schedule an appointment with Crossroads Animal Clinic.