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Dog Parvovirus-What You Need to Know

Parvovirus is a highly contagious and dangerous virus for dogs. It spreads quickly through contact with infected dogs or their belongings, such as toys, bowls, or leashes. In this blog, our vets in Echo Park will cover everything you need to know about parvovirus and how to keep your furry friend safe.

What is parvovirus in dogs? 

Parvovirus in dogs, often referred to as canine parvovirus (CPV), is a highly contagious viral disease that primarily affects puppies and unvaccinated dogs. The virus attacks rapidly dividing cells in the body, particularly cells lining the gastrointestinal tract and bone marrow, leading to severe and potentially life-threatening symptoms.

Canine parvovirus is transmitted through contact with infected feces, contaminated environments, or contact with infected dogs. The virus is resistant to many disinfectants and can survive in the environment for extended periods, making it highly contagious and easily spread. Additionally, items such as leashes, bowls, toys, and bedding can also harbor the virus and make dogs sick.

The Ways Parvovirus Attacks Your Dog's Body

Parvo is a disease that mainly affects dogs' stomachs and small intestines. The virus starts destroying the barrier of the dog's gut by attacking healthy cells and blocking the absorption of essential nutrients.

It can also harm the bone marrow and parts of the immune system in puppies, sometimes leading to heart problems. 

Why are puppies more susceptible to parvo?

When a mother dog is fully vaccinated against Parvo, her puppies will inherit antibodies from the mother that will keep them safe against the virus during the first six weeks of their lives. However, as the puppies start to wean at about six weeks of age, their immune systems become weaker, and the young pups become susceptible to the disease.

Veterinarians recommend starting Parvo vaccination for puppies at six weeks of age when the puppy starts weaning, and the antibodies from the mother are no longer there to keep them safe. Due to their immature immune systems, puppies are particularly vulnerable to parvovirus, and severe cases can result in death, especially if left untreated.

Due to these factors, puppies are at higher risk of contracting parvovirus than adult dogs. Puppy owners must prioritize vaccination, practice good hygiene, and avoid exposing their puppies to potentially contaminated environments until they are fully vaccinated and their immune systems are better equipped to handle the virus. Prompt veterinary care is essential if parvovirus is suspected, as early diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve the chances of recovery.

Your puppy should get their parvovirus vaccines at 6, 8, and 12 weeks of age. If you are a pet parent, having your puppy vaccinated against parvovirus is one of the best ways you can protect the health of your new friend as well as the health of the other dogs in your home and neighborhood.

What are the signs & symptoms of parvovirus in dogs?

It's imperative to understand that once your puppy starts showing symptoms, they are already extremely ill. If you notice your puppy showing any of the symptoms below, contact your vet immediately.

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

How can parvovirus be treated?

Treating parvovirus in both puppies and adult dogs typically involves supportive care to manage symptoms and help the dog's immune system fight off the virus.

Here are some common treatment approaches:

  • Hospitalization: Dogs with parvovirus often require hospitalization to receive intensive veterinary care. This allows for close monitoring of vital signs, fluid therapy, and medication administration.
  • Fluid Therapy: Intravenous fluid therapy is essential to correct dehydration and electrolyte imbalances caused by vomiting and diarrhea. Fluids may contain electrolytes and glucose to help maintain hydration and energy levels.
  • Anti-nausea Medication: To alleviate nausea and prevent further dehydration, medications to control vomiting (antiemetics) may be given.
  • Antibiotics: Dogs with parvovirus are at increased risk of secondary bacterial infections due to damage to the intestinal lining. Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent or treat bacterial infections.
  • Nutritional Support: Dogs with parvovirus often have reduced appetite and may struggle to eat or keep food down. Nutritional support may be provided through intravenous fluids, liquid diets, or syringe feeding bland, easily digestible food.
  • Pain Management: Pain medications may be administered to help alleviate discomfort and improve the dog's overall well-being.
  • Isolation: Dogs with parvovirus should be isolated from other animals to prevent the spread of the virus. Proper disinfection of the environment is also essential to minimize the risk of transmission.
  • Monitoring and Follow-up Care: Dogs with parvovirus require close monitoring by a veterinarian to assess their response to treatment and address any complications that may arise. Follow-up care may include additional rounds of treatment, rehydration, and supportive care as needed.
Treatment for parvovirus can be intensive and may require several days of hospitalization. Early intervention and prompt veterinary care significantly improve the chances of recovery. The best way to protect dogs against parvovirus is prevention through vaccination. It's essential to ensure that puppies are vaccinated according to the recommended schedule and that adult dogs receive regular booster vaccinations to maintain immunity.

If your puppy is diagnosed with Canine Parvovirus, you must take the proper steps to isolate them from other animals and always thoroughly wash your hands after being around your dog.

Ways You Can Prevent Parvo

Make sure your puppy only plays with dogs that are fully vaccinated against parvovirus. Your puppy needs to socialize, but it's also crucial to ensure that the dogs your puppy hangs out with are healthy.

Talk to your vet to keep your new furry family member safe. Follow your vet's recommendations and make sure your puppy gets vaccinated for Parvo, rabies, and other important diseases according to your local vaccination schedule.

If your unvaccinated dog or puppy displays signs of parvovirus, contact our Echo Park vets immediately. 

Echo Park Pets Always Welcome

Echo Park Veterinary Hospital is a walk-in only facility! Improving the health of Echo Park pets is our passion. Arrive early for one of our first-come first-served appointments.

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Contact (323) 663-1107