Canine parvovirus (“parvo”) is one of the scariest and most preventable diseases that your dog is exposed to as a puppy.
What is it?
Parvo is a virus that causes sickness in puppies approximately six months old or younger. This infection often results in a loss of appetite, dehydration, lethargy, abdominal pain and bloating, fever, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea.
How do dogs catch parvo?
Dogs can be infected with parvovirus through contact with infected feces or environments. The virus can exist on food and water bowls in kennels, on the hands of people who interact with infected animals, on the hair or feet of dogs, and many more places. This means that your puppy is at risk of getting sick with parvo almost constantly, especially when it is exposed to dog parks or other areas where young dogs congregate (pet stores, kennels, grooming facilities, etc).
How is it treated?
Treating parvovirus is very difficult because there aren’t any medications that can kill the virus in infected dogs. The only way to treat the infection is to provide electrolytes, replace fluid loss, control the vomiting and diarrhea, to offset the damage the virus is causing. This supports the immune system while it tries to fight off the viral infection. With the proper hospitalization, up to 85% of dogs can survive this deadly disease but without any treatment, up to 90% of dogs will succumb.
How do I keep my dog safe?
The easiest way to prevent parvovirus infection is to have your puppy immunized by a veterinarian to ensure proper quality and timing of the vaccines for optimal immunity. Although there is an extremely small chance your dog will still contract parvo, it is incredibly unlikely. These vaccines will also help to protect them from a number of dangerous diseases, including rabies, Bordetella (“kennel cough”), and distemper.