What You Need to Know About Parvo

What You Need to Know About Parvo

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    Many people do not know that puppies are highly vulnerable to deadly diseases until they have received all three booster shots (around 16-18 weeks). Parvovirus, for example, is highly contagious, has a high mortality rate, and can be found virtually anywhere. It is a constant threat to any unvaccinated dog, but especially to puppies, whose immune systems are not yet fully developed.

    Parvovirus is spread through fecal matter. Household surfaces, sidewalks, parks, and even the floor of your vet’s office may have the live virus on them, even if there is no visible fecal matter.

    A human who has been around a dog with Parvo can also transmit the virus—even if she has washed her hands! For more information about parvovirus in the environment and how to disinfect, check out Mar Vista Animal Medical Center.

    Infected dogs display few clinical symptoms, and they are often mild. Some pups have no visible symptoms when the virus takes their lives, but many dogs become depressed or lethargic and/or experience gastro-intestinal problems: decreased interest in food, diarrhea, and bloody stool. If your dog displays these symptoms and has not yet received all three booster shots, you should take her to the vet immediately for a Parvo test.

    The mortality rate for untreated cases is 90%. Treated puppies have up to an 80% chance of survival, but early detection and timely, aggressive treatment are critical.

    You can help protect your puppy by getting her vaccinated for the first time at six weeks and then following up with booster shots every three to four weeks. Avoid taking your pup to public places until she has had all of her boosters. Also, since many dogs with Parvo pass through vet clinics, it is wise to carry your dog from the car to the exam table and back.

    If your puppy is showing symptoms of Parvo, ask your vet’s office what their protocol is before you arrive at the clinic. It is important that you discuss this issue on the phone because both you and your dog could spread the virus simply by walking through the parking lot.

    If you are afraid that you can’t afford the vet bills, look for a low-cost clinic in your area. Your local animal shelter or rescue may offer affordable services, and if not, they can probably refer you to a low-cost clinic.

    It is critical that you consult a veterinarian immediately if you suspect that your pup may have Parvo. 

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