Parvo in Dogs: The Virus You Need to Know About
Parvovirus is not a new dog disease, but is one that is seeing a resurgence, especially in the Southern states where a new strain is thriving. Pet owners everywhere need to know about parvo in dogs and what they can do to protect their animals.
A Parvovirus Primer
Parvovirus is an infectious virus that can cause dogs to become very sick. When you hear about parvo in dogs, canine parvovirus in particular is the topic in discussion. Many species have a parvovirus (cats and humans included), however canine parvovirus traditionally only infects dogs.
When a dog is exposed to the virus, the virus invades the gastrointestinal tract and the bone marrow. Signs of a parvo infection include:
- Decreased or absent appetite
- Diarrhea (often severe with blood)
Dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea can be serious. Besides that, damaged intestines allow bacteria to leak into the bloodstream causing sepsis. Parvovirus also attacks the bone marrow, rendering the immune system less able to fight off the infection.
The virus is shed by infected dogs in their vomit and stool. It can remain on surfaces in the home or hospital, bowls, collars, leashes, or bedding. Outdoors the virus can live in the soil, resistant to heat, cold, and even drying.
A New Strain of Parvo in Dogs
Recently a new strain of parvovirus has emerged. Because of the environment in the southern half of the United States, this strain is thriving in states such as Arizona, Texas, California, and Florida.
Parvo 2c causes similar symptoms to traditional parvovirus, although it tends to be more intense. It is suspected that it may have an airborne transmission route as well as the traditional fecal-oral exposure. Parvo 2c is also able to infect cats as well as dogs.
How to Protect Your Pet
Fortunately, we do have some very effective ways to protect our pets against canine parvovirus. If you are a dog owner, it is more important than ever that you:
Keep your pet’s vaccinations current – We have a very effective vaccination that protects pets (dogs and cats alike) against parvovirus. Your pet’s distemper vaccine contains protective immunity against this devastating disease. While it is true a pet can contract parvo 2c even when vaccinated, being vaccinated decreases the severity of the disease. Be sure that your pet is up to date and has received all required vaccine boosters.
Avoid potential parvo havens – Places like dog parks and pet stores can house infectious virus’ without you even realizing it. Avoid places where dogs congregate, especially if you have a puppy who has not completed his or her vaccines or a dog that is immunocompromised.
Avoid being a fomite – A fomite is an object or substance that carrying infectious germs. You can be one if you are around a pet who is harboring a disease. If you are volunteering at the shelter or visiting a friend who has a sick pet, be sure to use good hygiene. Wash your hands and remove your clothes and shoes before interacting with your own pet.
Seek care if your pet is sick – If you feel that there is something wrong with your pet, don’t wait to seek veterinary care. Parvo in dogs is a very serious disease and many pets die without treatment. Early and aggressive care offers the best chance for a positive outcome.
Parvo is no fun any way you cut it, but with modern veterinary medicine we are able to save a great number of these pets and prevent many more from ever getting sick. If you have any questions or need to be sure that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date, please give us a call. We are always happy to help keep our patients healthier.
Share This Article
Schertz Animal Hospital
Since 1976, Schertz Animal Hospital has offered the greater San Antonio area outstanding pet care. Our state-of-the-art animal hospital in Schertz, TX compliments our stress-free handling and experienced veterinary staff. Make an appointment online or give us a call at (210) 659-0345 today!