Parvovirus, known as parvo for short, is a common viral illness in dogs.
Unfortunately, it is also a serious and deadly affliction.
Puppies between the ages of 6 weeks to 6 months are good candidates for this virus. Without treatment, around 80% of affected puppies will die.
The symptoms of parvo include:
- Severe diarrhea
- High fever
You may also notice that your puppy seems somewhat down in the dumps. Keeping in mind that many other ailments have these same symptoms, the sure way to know if your puppy has parvo is to have him checked by your veterinarian. And, as always in these situations, the earlier you do this, the better.
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Most young puppies with parvo appear to be ill with diarrhea and vomiting, whereas adult dogs that become infected with parvovirus show few signs, mainly just a brief bout of diarrhea.
The first 4 days of treatment for parvo in puppies are crucial; if your dog makes it through them, she has a much better chance of survival.
Watch this video, where Dr. Greg Martinez, DVM, explains more about parvovirus in dogs:
Parvo is spread by a puppy stepping into or even smelling an affected dog’s feces. My veterinarian says a puppy could come into contact merely by walking across a spot where an affected dog had urinated. According to him, the virus could live in that ground for months.
Parvovirus can also survive on objects such as clothing, bedding and cage floors for long periods of time. Remove fecal waste or vomit with a detergent followed by a bleach solution (1/2 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water).
The Dog Repair Book advises that dogs afflicted with parvo should be kept in a restricted area to prevent spreading this deadly canine virus.
Treatment in Puppies
Treatment for parvo in puppies is limited. Since there is no antiviral medication, keeping a puppy hydrated is the main focus.
Maintaining her normal electrolyte balances by replacing fluids lost from vomiting and diarrhea will help. Although antibiotics can help in preventing secondary infections, they are useless in the fight against parvo itself.
If a puppy is lucky enough to recover from parvo, he will be immune to reinfection for at least 20 months. Immunity could possibly last his lifetime. Once he has recovered, the virus is no longer shed in his feces.
Prevention and a Word of Advice
Properly administered vaccines are the best options to prevent parvo. But if your puppy is already infected, prompt veterinary attention is a must — don’t try to “play doctor.” This illness demands proper care.
One last thing to share with you: I once owned a dog that contracted parvo. Upon the first signs, we took him to the veterinarian, where I was told that he had a 50/50 chance of survival. He overcame it, and lived a long healthy life.
The real key to survival is immediate veterinary care at the first signs of this killer disease.