I have seen an increase in patients with parvovirus (or “Parvo”) in Beaumont over the past few weeks. Canine parvoviral infection is one of the most common and severe infectious diseases of dogs. It can cause life-threatening damage to your pet’s intestinal tract and immune system.
This virus is extremely contagious and strikes rapidly. It is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and by contact with contaminated feces (stool), environments or people. The virus is easily transmitted from one place to another on the feet or fur of dogs, or even on the shoes of people.
Not only can the parvovirus be readily transferred from place to place, it is also extremely hardy in the environment. The virus can remain infectious on contaminated ground for seven months or more. It is resistant to almost all common household disinfectants, with the exception of bleach. As a result, your dog can contract parvovirus anywhere pets come together, such as parks, kennels and pet stores.
Once the virus enters the body, it attacks and multiples in the bone marrow, intestinal tract and immune system. All dogs are at risk, but puppies are most susceptible due to their immature immune system. Adult dogs who are not up to date on their parvovirus vaccination are also at increased risk.
Signs of “Parvo” include vomiting, diarrhea (severe and often bloody), lack of appetite, fever, and lethargy or listlessness. Vomiting and diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration, with most deaths from parvovirus occurring within 48 to 72 hours after clinical signs begin. Therefore, if you see any of these symptoms in your puppy or dog, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
When a dog develops “Parvo”, treatment can be very expensive and the dog may die despite aggressive treatment. Therefore, prevention is key! Your puppy should receive a full series of vaccines, including a vaccination against parvovirus, starting at 6 weeks of age. Booster shots should be given every 3-4 weeks until your puppy is 16-18 weeks old. As an adult dog, boosters are given every 1-3 years to provide continued protection against this deadly disease.