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Home >  Blog >  Protecting Your Dog From Parvo

Protecting Your Dog From Parvo

Posted on 7 September 2020
Protecting Your Dog From Parvo

When your household gets a new fur-member in the family, it's quite a special and exciting moment. But for new puppy and dog owners everywhere, this special time can quickly and drastically turn into a nightmare. This nightmare is called "parvo" and it can take a healthy, playful puppy and quickly turn them fatally ill.

Parvo is a dangerous, highly contagious virus that causes an infectious gastrointestinal illness in dogs, with puppies and young dogs particularly susceptible. What makes parvo so alarming is it's high level of contagiousness and the ease in which it spreads through a population of dogs. That's why it's crucially important dog owners and breeders are aware of prevention measures and steps to take if a puppy or dog in their care catches parvovirus.

Symptoms of Parvo in Dogs:

  • Severe diarrhoea, commonly containing blood
  • Lethargy
  • Severe vomiting
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration
It's important to note that dogs might not show every sign and that all ages of dogs can be affected - however, it's most common in dogs under 1 year old, with puppies under 5 months of age the most dramatically affected, hardest to treat and most at risk of rapid death.


Risk Factors:

  • Younger dogs between six weeks and six months old.
  • Unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated dogs are most at risk.
  • Particular breeds such as Rottweilers and German Shepherds although it's unknown why.


How is parvo spread?

Parvo is an incredibly resilient virus, withstanding long periods of time in the environment or on surfaces and sustaining itself against most disinfectants, temperatures and conditions.

Transmission can occur in several ways but most commonly through direct contact with an infected dog or secondly, direct contact through the nose or mouth with infected faeces, saliva or vomit. Transmission can also occur through contact with a human who has carried the virus into the home on their skin, clothing or shoes - humans can easily carry the virus after coming in contact with a dog that's carrying faecal particles on their hair or paws, or even stepping in infected faeces in the street. Additionally, if a dog licks or sniffs a contaminated surface such as drinking bowls or carpets, they can become infected.

As you can see, it's incredibly difficult to kill parvo virus on surfaces or even know you've come into contact with it.


How to prevent parvo in dogs?

Vaccination is the only and most effective protection for your dog in the fight against parvo. Puppies require a sequence of vaccinations, followed by booster shots throughout their life.

While it's tempting to take your new furry friend with you everywhere, it's important to note your puppy will not have full immunity against the virus until two weeks after their final puppy vaccination. Unvaccinated puppies or incompletely vaccinated puppies should not be exposed to unvaccinated dogs or unsafe environments where parvovirus may be introduced such as kennels or dog parks. Talk to us about keeping your puppy safe with safe socialisation and puppy school.


How is parvo treated?

Parvo progresses rapidly and can be fatal if left untreated - it's vital you get in touch with the clinic immediately if you suspect or are concerned your dog has parvo. Treatment most often involves hospitlisation and a treatment plan involving IV fluids, antibiotics, anti-vomiting medications and pain management. Because parvo attacks the white cell count of a dogs blood, their immunity and ability to fight infection is greatly reduced which is why it's critical an ill dog receives veterinary attention immediately. 

Understanding the signs, risk factors and prevention measures of parvo is critical to any pet owner to ensure dogs have the best protection and the best chance at fighting the virus.


Key Takeaways:

  • The best way to prevent parvo is early vaccination.
  • Puppies and younger dogs are most at risk.
  • Symptoms include severe diarrhoea, severe vomiting, lethargy, fever and weakness.
  • Puppies need to be kept isolated from unsafe areas where dogs congregate (such as parks or kennels) until they've completed their vaccinations.
  • Parvo is very dangerous and can be fatal.

If you suspect your dog is sick, contact us immediately on (03) 9596 4804. Additionally, you can book an appointment or ask about parvo vaccinations/boosters for your dog at your next clinic visit.

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