Canine Parvovirus (Parvo) Overview
What You Need to Know
Canine parvovirus, also known as “parvo,” is a highly contagious virus that primarily affects the gastrointestinal tract in canines. However, in some cases, parvo can cause damage to the heart muscle in young puppies. Spread through the waste of infected animals, the disease affects not only dogs but foxes and wolves as well. Though its origin is unknown, parvo was first discovered in 1978 and had spread throughout the world by 1980. It can remain in infected soil for up to one year and survive temperature extremes.
How Parvo Spreads
This virus spreads when dogs come in contact with infected feces, whether ingesting or licking it. If a dog’s paws come in contact with infected feces, it can make its way into their mouth and they can become infected. Many puppies get vaccinated against this virus at four months of age, and those that aren’t are at high risk of becoming infected.
Symptoms of Parvo
- Bloody diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
Death can occur within 72 hours of the first signs of infection and puppies with parvo have a mortality rate of up to 91%.
Treatment for parvo involves keeping infected dogs and puppies well hydrated. Blood plasma transfusions with antibodies from a dog that has survived parvo is another possible treatment. The National Center for Biotechnology Information also recommends dogs with parvo be put on an antibiotic. Following recovery, a dog and its waste may remain contagious for up to two months.
Canine Parvovirus Prevention
Vaccination is the best way to prevent parvo. Proper hygiene is another great preventative method. When in dog parks, make sure to keep your pet away from other dogs' feces. Parvovirus is difficult to kill, and bleach is one of the only household disinfectants known to eliminate the virus.
The team at DoodyCalls is fully trained and experienced in proper disinfection techniques, and we always thoroughly clean and disinfect our tools and shoes after each service appointment. If you have concerns about parvo, reach out to your veterinarian for assistance.
The Merck Veterinary Manual contains an extensive Canine Parvovirus entry.
The Wikipedia entry on Canine Parvovirus also contains extensive information about the spread, treatment, and prevention of Canine Parvovirus (Parvo).