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dog parent must-knows

What puppy owners should know about Parvo

Early vaccinations are critical for prevention

Updated June 19, 2020

Created By

Kaitlyn Arford,

the essentials

  • 💉 Immunity requires all 3 shots. Vaccination for young puppies takes 12 weeks, and they’re susceptible until then. There is no cure for Parvo, and treatment requires intense veterinary care.
  • 🥩 Nutrition is your next-best ally. Vaccinations and good nutrition are the cornerstones of preventing parvo.

Parvo at a glance

Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious disease that causes gastrointestinal tract problems in puppies and unvaccinated dogs. The virus works by attacking the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, causing severe diarrhea and dehydration, which can lead to death if not treated aggressively. The virus can also attack white blood cells and cells of the heart muscle, which can result in a low white blood cell count, heart damage, or even death.

Curious puppies may get parvo by touching their nose or mouth to infected feces. The virus also spreads through direct contact with an infected dog. It indirectly spreads through contact with contaminated environments or items, like leashes, crates, or bowls.

The virus is difficult to irradicate. It’s resistant to heat, cold, and humidity. It can survive indoors for months or for months or years outdoors. It’s crucial to immediately quarantine infected dogs and disinfect environments.

Proper vaccinations are the only way to prevent Parvo

Puppies get a total of three canine parvovirus vaccinations at three-to-four week intervals. They will first get the vaccine at six to eight weeks old. Puppies get another shot between 10 to 12 weeks of age and then between 14 or 16 weeks.

Good nutrition is key — Since there’s no cure for parvo, puppies will need a strong immune system to help fight the virus and recover from treatment. Ultimately, the best thing you can do is feed your puppy a balanced diet, which means a good blend of protein, fat, carbs, and minerals.

Be cautious when socializing — Puppies can get the disease from dog parks, grooming facilities, pet stores, and more. Socialize them in a less public area and limit their contact with dogs. Check that kennels, daycares, and training classes require vaccination records and health examinations. You are safe socializing unvaccinated puppies with vaccinated dogs in secure environments.

In summary, don’t allow dogs to be in contact with known unvaccinated dogs. And don’t let your dog touch feces outdoors, particularly in well-used areas like public parks.

The symptoms of canine parvovirus

Every dog owner should recognize the signs and symptoms of parvo — it’s part of being a responsible pet owner. The most common signs are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Hypothermia

🚨Contact your vet immediately if your pup shows any combination of these symptoms. Tell your vet that your pup may have parvo in advance. They can take appropriate measures to prevent spreading the infection.

How Parvo works

Puppies under four months old and incompletely unvaccinated dogs are most at risk, however, adult dogs that have not been vaccinated appropriately can also get sick from parvo.

Puppies are susceptible to parvo because their immune system weakens during weaning. Puppies have some antibodies in their system from their mother’s milk for up to six weeks. As these antibodies leave their system they need parvo vaccinations.

A combination of parvo and secondary infection can lead to a severe case of parvo. The stress of weaning can weaken their immune system, which can lead to a more severe parvo infection.

Certain breeds are more at risk than others.

  • Rottweilers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • American Pit Bulls
  • German Shepherds
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • American Staffordshire Terriers