Parvovirus: why it is important to vaccinate your dog

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The parvovirus is one of the most serious diseases that can affect the dogs. It is more common that it occurs in puppies, which in addition to being the ones which the condition is most easily spread, are also those who develop more severe cases of the disease. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon that the disease has serious consequences and cause death in young animals.

Usually, the disease is contracted before having all the vaccines. Ideally, a puppy should receive the vaccination after the 6-8 first weeks and that it receives up to three doses of parvovirus vaccine. Usually, we start with a very soft vaccine only against parvovirus (sometimes it is combined with the distemper virus), and according to the animal growth, it will get two other stronger doses of vaccines that combine more diseases.

What is parvovirus?

The parvovirus is a disease caused by the Canine Parvovirus (CPV), which attacks the cells that grow faster and seriously damages the intestines, blood cells and even the heart of the puppies.

Symptoms of parvovirus

At the beginning of the disease, some puppies have only a slight fever and look very sad. Prevention is better than cure, so is consulting with a veterinarian, especially if the dog is still a puppy and even if it did not complete the vaccination schedule. The soon as we detect the disease, the better. The symptoms that this disease can cause include:

  • Sudden death by cardiac parvovirosis.
  • Diarrhea with blood.
  • Apathy: the doggie is sad and does not want to move around or play.
  • Anorexia: does not want to eat anything.
  • Vomiting.
  • Rapid weight loss.
  • Fever.
  • As the disease progresses, hypothermia (from cold).

Keep in mind that there are also breeds of dog that, for some reason, are much more sensitive to this disease:

  • Rottweiler.
  • Doberman.
  • Pinscher.
  • German Shepherd.
  • Pitbull.

Whenever a puppy has diarrhea it may be parvo?

We must always discard the parvovirus first because it is a very serious condition. We usually use a combined test of coronavirus, which gives similar symptoms but is much softer and can even be treated at home sometimes.

It is important to know that even if it has all the vaccines, your dog could catch it, even if its symptoms would be much smoother.

Another thing that must be thought carefully is that the puppies are very sensitive to the parasites such as Giardia and that have a bad habit of eating what they shouldn't. Sometimes the cause of diarrhea or an upset feeling is that has eaten a small object or a stick.

Can my puppy be saved if it has parvovirus?

The likelihood of salvation depends on the circumstances:

  • The puppies from predisposed breeds tend to have a less likelihood of survival.
  • The older the puppy is, more likely for it to survive.
  • As soon as the disease is detected, the better the prognosis.
  • The greater the number of vaccines, the best defenses against the disease it will have.
  • The likelihood of survival by treating the puppy at home is very low, intensive care is needed.

Veterinarians are going to do everything possible to save your dog, but many resources are needed:

  • Constant hospitalization.
  • Intravenous fluid therapy.
  • Special feeding (often via a probe).
  • Intravenous medication against vomiting and to protect against bacterial infections.
  • Daily blood analysis (we must know if there is anemia or lowering at protein levels, which would require a blood transfusion).
  • Blood transfusions and/or serum.
  • When resources permit, use of antiviral drugs such as interferon omega. It is the only treatment that acts against the virus and not to treat symptoms.
  • Constant care is needed to keep the puppy clean and have it protected from the cold if it has low body temperature (infrared lamps are typically used).

Important steps to prevent the spread of parvovirus

The parvovirus is a disease that is not spread to cats, nor to the people, but it is highly contagious to other dogs. We must isolate our puppy so that it does not touch any other dog, much less other puppies.

This tiny virus (that's why it's called parvo), is one of the more resistant viruses there is. To kill him we should clean in depth and then leave bleach making its effect 10 minutes. There are also specialized products, designed especially by clinics. Consult your veterinarian if you have any doubts about how to properly disinfect your home or the place where the dog lives.

It is best not to try to wash blankets, towels, or beds because you are not going to be able to decontaminate them well enough. Get rid of them.

At the time of disinfection, it is very important to take into account some points:

  • Never mix bleach with ammonia, is tremendously toxic.
  • The deep cleaning should be done with soaps and at high temperatures.
  • The bleach you should use cold, with high temperatures it becomes inactive.
  • First, we will clean the area and then we disinfect it.
  • Isolate the puppy or dog with parvovirus during 1-2 months, it can be a source of infection for other puppies.

If you are unlucky enough to have a puppy with parvovirus, don't put a puppy at home (if possible any other dog) in at least 6 months. As much as we disinfect it, our house can continue to be contaminated and we risk a return of the disease again.

Vaccination is the difference between the survival or not. The puppies that do not yet possess all the vaccines must not leave the house, as the virus is very resistant, so we run a considerable risk of finding it elsewhere. Remember that the vaccine does not go into effect immediately and you must wait a week from the last dose for it to be effective.