Canine Parvovirus: Why Vaccines are Important

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Canine ParvovirusCanine Parvovirus is a serious illness that affects dogs of all ages. The good news is that dog owners do have a choice in preventing this from happening. The vaccine given to dogs is one of the best defenses in ensuring a dog is not affected by parvovirus, or what it is more commonly known as: parvo.

Table of Contents

What is Canine Parvovirus?

This is a viral disease that rapidly attacks the dividing cells in a dog’s body, with the entire body affected. However, most severely affected is the intestinal tract.

Veterinarian checking up a sick dog that may have parvovirus in dogs with stethoscope

The virus affects the white blood cells and bone marrow in a dog, and when a younger puppy is plagued with this virus, it often results in damage to the heart muscle and can be a cardiac issue for the rest of the dog’s life. It should be noted that this does have a high death rate in dogs that are affected.

Parvoviral Infection – How is Parvo Transmitted?

Through studies that have been performed on dogs with parvo, it is widely known that the transmission of this disease is through direct contact with a dog that already has parvo or through contact with the feces of an infected dog. However, there are even more ways in which this can be transmitted. The University of Glasgow study found the following:

  • Humans can transmit this to their own dog through hands, clothes, and shoes that have come into contact with an infected dog or feces of said dog.
  • Food and water bowls can become contaminated as well.
  • Even collars and leads used on multiple dogs can become contaminated.

How do Dogs Get Parvo – What Causes Parvo in Dogs?

This is what science considers a stable virus as it can survive for over a year in the environment. Heat, cold, humidity and drought do not kill out this virus.

The initial virus is thought to have been a mutation of the genome of feline panleukopenia virus, as both viruses are evolving from a single common ancestor. When the virus enters into the body, it immediately starts to attack the cells of the dog.

How is this virus entering the dogs?

Through coming into contact with this virus via feces, or even saliva of a contaminated dog.

Parvo Incubation Period

When a dog comes into contact with the parvovirus, on average this incubation period is between three to seven days.  What makes this virus so dangerous is that during this incubation period, the dog has no signs that they are sick. Thus, they are spreading it in their environment, unbeknownst to the owner.

Parvo Puppy – How do Puppies Get Parvo?

Puppies are more susceptible to parvo than adult dogs, simply due to their age. Puppies will get this virus just as a dog…they have come into contact with virus-infected feces, soil, water dishes, leashes, bedding or the like. Once they come into contact with the virus, simply licking their own paws can cause the virus to get into the system.

Why Parvo in Puppies Can be Deadly!

Parvo is dangerous to any dog, no matter the age, however, puppies are at an increased risk of this resulting in death. Puppies that are younger than 6 weeks often retain their mother’s antibodies, which helps them to get some resistance to parvo thanks to the parvo vaccination of the mother dog.

Once puppies are 6 weeks old, they receive their first round of parvo shots, then again at 8 weeks and 12 weeks of age. Until a puppy receives all the parvo vaccinations, they are at an increased chance of contracting the virus.

Risk Factors: A Puppy with Parvovirus

A puppy has several risk factors for catching parvovirus. These risk factors include:

  • Not having a parvo shot
  • Not having the complete set of parvo shots, 3 shots or even a larger dose at the age of 14 weeks
  • Puppies naturally investigate everything; thus, they are at increased chance of coming into contact with this virus in public areas such as dog parks, dog daycares and the like

Veterinary Diagnostics: Signs of Parvo in Puppies

Those who have a puppy that shows any sign of parvo should immediately be seen by a veterinarian. Clinical signs that vets state to watch out for include:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Anorexia
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Swollen lymph nodes

A Deadly Disease – Symptoms of Canine Parvovirus

Parvovirus is a deadly disease. Symptoms in canines can often be mistaken for other issues, such as food allergies or the like. Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea that is often bloody
  • Weight loss
  • No desire to eat food or drink water
  • This then leads to dehydration and lethargy in a canine.

General Symptoms of Parvo in Dogs

The general symptoms of parvo in dogs is vomiting and bloody diarrhea. This is the first two issues that dog owners often notice in their dogs that raise their concern levels. It is vital that when these signs are seen that the dog is taken to a vet.

In most cases, if a dog is taken to a vet with 36 to 48 hours of these symptoms, they can make a full recovery without any long-term damage.

Symptoms of Parvo in Puppies

While puppies will still have bloody diarrhea and vomiting, puppies often show signs of being lethargic. They simply have no energy, or at least not the level of energy that a normal puppy often has.

They may have no desire to play or do anything, leading many to believe the puppy is depressed. It is the effect of the virus that is causing these issues. When these are seen, immediately talk to your veterinarian.

The Most Deadly Signs of Parvo in Dogs!

The deadliest signs of parvo in dogs are bloody diarrhea and vomiting. This is due to the fact that this leads to dehydration which affects all organs in the body if not taken care of immediately. The dehydration can cause fever spikes along with lethargy, which can lead to long-term damage to the heart, brain and other functions of the body.

Dog Parvo – Parvo Survival Rate and Statistics

The Unviersity of Glasgow has found that if a dog is treated in a timely manner, there is an 85 to 90% chance that the infected dog will survive parvo. However, if no treatment is sought, 90% of the dogs infected often die.

Canine Parvovirus – Parvo Puppies Survival Rate and Canine Parvovirus Survival Rate

Parvo is much harder on younger puppies than dogs. According to the VRRH, those puppies who receive treatment have a 90 to 95% survival rate. Without treatment, the chances of surviving are only at 10%.

Can Puppies Survive Parvo?

Yes, puppies can survive parvo if they are treated when symptoms appear and are given the proper course of treatment. Not treating a puppy almost always ensures death.

How Long Does Parvo Last?

The length of time that a dog is infected with parvo really depends upon the dog. In most cases, the dog will start to show signs 7 to 10 days after they have already been infected with this virus. After several dogs of therapy and treatment from a veterinarian, the dog may be able to go home.

However, veterinarian’s advice that the contaminated dog should be kept away from healthy dogs for at least one month to ensure that the virus has left the system.

Parvo Dogs – The Top FAQs Answered!

There are several frequently asked questions that veterinarians receive from concerned dog owners. Here are some of those that are more frequently asked so you have a full understanding of how dangerous this illness can be.

Can a puppy survive parvo?

Yes, a puppy can survive parvo if they are given the proper treatment. A puppy that is left on his or her own without treatment will more than likely die.

Parvo dog’s survival rate, how do we determine survival rate?

The survival rate of dogs take into consideration the numerous studies that have been done on the parvovirus. In addition, the veterinarian takes into consideration the age of the puppy or dog, any other health conditions, along with the severity of issues to give an individual chance of survival to the dog owners.

How do dogs catch parvovirus from other dogs?

Dogs can catch parvovirus from other dogs simply through coming into contact with this via saliva, feces or the like. The canine parvovirus can live on almost any type of surface. When a dog sniffs or licks a surface, the particles then go into the dog’s mouth causing the dog to become contaminated.

Parvovirus in adults: how long does it last?

In most adult dogs, the virus will last up to 14 days. However, their age and the immune system play a role in how long this can last.

What causes parvovirus in dogs?

Parvovirus is caused in dogs through direct contact with something that has been infected or with a dog that is infected. The virus will transmit easily through the mouth of the dog.

Can a vaccinated dog get parvo?

Yes, a vaccinated dog can get parvo if they are not up to date on the vaccine. A vaccine booster is given every few years to help ensure that the dog is protected. However, when a dog or young puppy is vaccinated as they should be, then parvo should not be an issue.

Can humans get parvo?

Humans do have a parvovirus B19 that is considered a parvovirus infection. However, this differs from the parvovirus that is seen in dogs and cats. Thus, no human can give their pet parvo, and no pet with parvo can give this to their owner.

Treatment for Parvo – Canine Parvovirus Treatment

Sick dog with IV inside a cage having parvovirus treatment

If a puppy or dog were to get parvovirus, there is a treatment out there. There is no cure that stops the virus, but the treatments are meant to ensure that the dog or puppy is able to overcome the virus and have a good life.

Parvo in Puppies Treatment

Treatment in puppies can include numerous courses of action. For example:

  • Giving fluid therapy to combat dehydration
  • Medications to prevent vomiting and diarrhea
  • Preventing secondary infections that may occur
  • Overall intense nursing care
  • Antibiotics

Parvo Treatment Costs

The costs of parvo treatment will differ from veterinarian to veterinarian. However, the average cost of treatment is $200. This includes vet stays, IV fluids, and medications. If the dog requires longer treatment, expect the price to increase.

Parvo Treatment Success Rate

As stated earlier, for those dogs and puppies who are treated, they have a success rate of anywhere from 80 to 95% depending on the severity, their current health, and other conditions. The sooner that the parvovirus is caught in a dog, the sooner they will see success.

Canine Parvovirus Cure – How to Tell if Parvo is Getting Better?

How can you tell when the parvovirus is getting better in a dog? They often stop with the intestinal issues that they were having, along with these signs:

  • They have no fever
  • They gain their appetite back, along with the desire to drink water
  • They have more energy

Remember, there is no cure for parvovirus. There is the only treatment for the issues that arise when a dog is suffering from this condition.

How Long Does Parvo Last in a Puppy?

For puppies that catch this illness, the issue can last from anywhere from a few weeks to a month or more. Puppies that are already weakened are those that often have the virus issues last longer than those who are healthy and strong.

5 Things You Need to Know About Canine Parvovirus

Here are 5 things that you need to know about the canine parvovirus:

  1. This is highly contagious in young puppies and older dogs. Those that are infected should be kept away from other dogs and puppies for at least a month after they have no signs of this illness present.
  2. This can cause secondary infections that lead to other issues and can decrease the chances of survival.
  3. Certain breeds such as Doberman pinschers, German shepherds, pit bulls, and Rottweilers are more susceptible to this. The reason for these dogs being more susceptible is often associated with the fact that these black and tan breeds often succumb to parvo faster than other breeds. However, this does not mean that other dogs are okay…any dog can get parvo!
  4. Never let the parvo infection run its course, always get supportive care from your vet to help your dog or puppy get better. Letting this infection go on its own will result in death in most cases.
  5. This can be spread through numerous things like feces in the yard or park, soil, through shoes that have walked through feces, even via food dishes that the virus is on.

Canine Parvovirus is a Deadly Virus with Unforgiving Consequences

For dog owners, one of the worse pieces of news they are given is that their dog has contracted parvo.

It is a difficult situation for everyone involved. The dog is often miserable, while the owner and the family are worried that their dog may not survive this.

The good news is that with canine parvovirus vaccinations, you can help your dog to have a much stronger chance of overcoming this virus should they come into contact with this. And in the event that your dog does contract parvo, be sure that you do your best to contain this so other neighborhood animals do not become contaminated.

Common Questions on Canine Parvovirus

How is this virus entering the dogs?

What is the canine parvovirus survival rate if they do not receive treatment?

Are there certain breeds more prone to canine parvovirus?

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