Parvo: All About the Potentially Deadly Virus

Parvo, as it’s commonly known, is a viral disease that can be deadly to dogs, and is one of the most common diseases in dogs. It’s also highly-contagious which requires caretakers of puppies and dogs in kennels to be vigilant against the virus. Parvo can be easily passed through the feces, whether the feces are fresh or old. Parvo comes from the Latin word for “small,” and even if it’s a small amount, it can pack a deadly punch. The virus is also known as Canine Parvovirus, and can also be spread through vomit emmited from a dog infected with the disease. It can be transmitted by humans and dogs, other animals, and even objects that may come in contact with the virus-laden feces.

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The Effects of Parvo in Dogs

Parvovirus works by attacking the dog’s white blood cells and intestinal tract. In some cases, it may attack the heart muscle, causing cardiac damage. The disease works by attacking the rapidly-dividing cells in the dog’s body. Puppies and other dogs not vaccinated are the most vulnerable to the parvovirus, and certain breeds are also more commonly seen with the virus as well; these breeds are American Staffordshire Terrirers, Doberman Pinschers, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds and Rottweilers. It’s important to make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date, especially if you’re going to have him around other dogs in a dog park, kennel, etc. If you have an older dog, you can check with your vet about having the dog vaccinated against parvo at least once.

Symptoms and Detection of Parvo

Symptoms of parvovirus include severe vomiting, loss of appetite, bloody foul diarrhea and lethargy. The excessive diarrehea and vomiting can pose heath risks because they may lead to life-threatening dehydration. Vet can diagnose parvovirus in dogs with a laboratory test in about 15 minutes, though it’s not foolproof, and your dog may need further tests and bloodwork.

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Fighting Back Against Parvo

Parvo has a remarkably high survival rate, able to survive in most environments for months. Your puppy can receive a vaccination against it, but if you need to rid your house of parvovirus now, here’s the steps you can take.

  • Clean anything the infected dog may have come in contact with
  • Wash your hands after handling any feces and things adjacent to feces
  • Make a solution of 1 part bleach to 32 parts water to disinfect dishes, bowls, and other applicable materials. You MUST clean the items before disinfecting them
  • Clean the soles of your footwear if you have walked through any area where a parvo-infected dog may have been
  • Disinfect carpet and wood as best as you can

If you even suspect that you or your dog may have come in contact with a dog infected with parvo, you can take these steps above, and keep up with the cleanliness, making sure your dog isn’t around any areas that haven’t been disinfected or cleaned thoroughly.

There isn’t a specific treatment of drugs or therapy that can kill the virus, however, your vet can prescribe a treatment plan to counteract the symptoms and increase your dog’s immune system health. If your dog is infected, he will need to be treated at the animal hospital for several days. There vets will administer antiobiotics, plus drugs to control vomiting and other therapy to help with the symptoms.

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