Parvovirus is a serious, highly contagious virus spread between dogs via contact with infected dogs or contaminated objects such as toys or bedding. Puppies are particularly susceptible. Today, our Vancouver vets discuss how parvovirus spreads and how you can prevent it. 

How is canine parvovirus spread?

Parvovirus is a virus that can be easily transmitted and causes severe gastrointestinal symptoms in unvaccinated dogs, especially puppies. It is highly contagious and can spread through infected dog feces.

Dogs can infect others even before they show symptoms or after recovering. Additionally, dogs may not show symptoms but can still spread the virus. It is essential to vaccinate your dog to prevent the spread of the disease.

People who are in contact with dogs who have parvovirus can unknowingly spread it to other dogs.

Some other common sources of contamination are leashes, bowls, toys, and bedding.

How does parvovirus attack your dog's body?

Parvovirus attacks a dog's stomach and small intestines. The virus destroys a dog's gut barrier by attacking healthy cells and blocking the absorption of essential nutrients.

In puppies, parvo also attacks the bone marrow and lymphopoietic tissues, which play essential roles in your dog's immune system. It can sometimes affect the heart as well. 

Why are puppies susceptible to parvo?

If the mother dog has received full vaccination against parvovirus, her puppies will receive immunity to the disease through the transfer of antibodies from their mother. This immunity will last for approximately 6 weeks after birth.

However, as the puppies start to transition to solid food, their immune systems will weaken, making them vulnerable to parvovirus infection.

This is why vets urge pet parents to begin vaccinating their puppy against parvo at 6 weeks old when the antibodies from their mother are no longer available to protect them. 

It isn't until a young dog has received all 3 of the recommended parvovirus vaccines that they will be protected against the disease. During the gap between weaning and full vaccination, puppies will most likely catch parvovirus.

What are the symptoms of parvovirus in a dog?

It is essential to understand that once your dog begins showing symptoms, they are already very ill. If you notice that your dog is displaying any of the following symptoms, contact your vet immediately:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Depression

Treatment for Parvovirus in Dogs

There is no cure for parvo in dogs, however, your vet will offer supportive treatments to address symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. It is essential that your pup gets adequate hydration and nutrition in order to recover from parvovirus.

Since secondary infections are common in puppies with parvo (due to their weakened immune systems) your vet will be sure to monitor your puppy's ongoing condition and may prescribe antibiotics to help combat any bacterial infections that may begin to develop.

If a veterinarian is treating your four-legged friend and survives the first four days after symptoms appear, there is a good chance that your pup will recover from the disease. It typically takes about a week for dogs to recover from Parvo.

If your dog is diagnosed with canine parvovirus it is essential to take steps to isolate your dog from other animals and always wash your hands thoroughly after being near your dog.

How can I prevent parvo?

To prevent parvovirus, it's important to vaccinate your puppy. Until your puppy is fully vaccinated, avoid exposing them to dogs that haven't been fully vaccinated against parvovirus.

Although socialization is crucial for young dogs, it's necessary to ensure that the dogs your puppy interacts with are vaccinated and won't pose any health risks.

Consult your vet on how to safeguard your new furry family member effectively.

Follow your vet's recommendations and have your dog vaccinated against parvo, rabies, and other serious illnesses in accordance with the vaccination schedule recommended for your location.

Is your puppy due for a parvovirus vaccination? Contact our Vancouver vet today to book your appointment!