Parvo Virus – Tips to keep your dog safe

parvo virusThe canine parvo virus is one of the most devastating and contagious diseases your puppy or adult dog can get. But you can protect your beloved pet with yearly vaccinations. Our vaccine clinic is open 6 days a week. 

What are the symptoms of parvo?
Loss of appetite and thirst are usually the first symptoms, followed by sluggishness, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea.  The parvo virus attacks the dog’s digestive system.  The cause of death in parvo infected dogs is often dehydration.  Your dog’s best chance of survival is to start treatment right away.  Most deaths from parvo occur within 2-3 days of the onset of symptoms.

How do I know for sure if my dog has parvo?
In addition to the common symptoms noted above, veterinary clinics have a quick, inexpensive test for the disease.  It is highly accurate for detecting the parvo virus in your dog’s feces.

Which dogs are most likely to get parvo?
Puppies under 4 months of age or any dogs that are not fully vaccinated against the virus.  The stronger your dog’s immune system is, the better his chances for survival.  Young puppies are most vulnerable.  Dogs that have had a greater exposure to the virus, such as dogs housed together with infected dogs, are also more vulnerable.

How do I prevent my dog from getting parvo?
Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate!!!  The combination vaccines (e.g., “5-in-1” or “7-in-1”) contain a component for parvo.  Vaccinate your puppy with the parvo combo vaccine at 6 weeks of age, and then again every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age.  All dogs, including adult dogs, need at least 2 parvo combo vaccinations given 3-4 weeks apart.

In addition, keep young puppies at home until they are fully vaccinated for parvo.  The parvo virus is everywhere in the environment, but is especially common in public places where other dogs are frequently found such as dog parks, people parks, and sidewalks/lawns where dogs are frequently walked.

How is parvo spread?
The virus is spread by contact with the feces or vomit of a parvo-infected dog.  Transmission can be directly from dog to dog, or indirectly through contact with contaminated feces/vomit or contaminated environments (floors, bedding, ground) or contaminated people (hands, clothes, shoes).

NOTE:  Parvo-infected dogs may not show symptoms for up to 2 weeks.  However, they can start shedding the virus within a couple of days of infection.  Therefore, you often won’t know that a dog is infectious until it’s too late.  Similarly, even after a dog survives the disease, he can continue to shed the virus for 2 weeks after the onset of symptoms.

How do I disinfect my home for parvo virus?
Parvo can survive in the environment for many months without disinfection.  Once your dog has stopped shedding the virus:

  • Pick up all infected feces/vomit (and surrounding soil) from your yard and discard in trash.  Consider your yard parvo-infected for at least 6 months.  Parvo virus is very difficult to decontaminate from the soil.
  • Bathe your dog to remove the virus from his coat and feet.
  • Remove all infected porous (non-smooth) items from your home or car that have come into contact with your dog and his/her feces or vomit:  food, bedding, toys, upholstered furniture, etc, and discard in trash.
  • Use a solution of 1 part bleach (Chlorox, not an off-brand) to 32 parts water and saturate all surfaces, such as contaminated floors and walls.  Let dry and repeat at least once.
  • Wash all parvo infected clothes/shoes in a 1:32 parts bleach solution.
  • Do not bring any young or unvaccinated dogs into your home for at least 6 months!