Most dog owners are at least somewhat aware that Parvovirus is a very serious illness that can cause death in dogs of all ages. Puppies are the most at risk for contracting Parvovirus before they can be vaccinated for full protection.
Most pet owners are not aware of the symptoms of this illness, however, which can lead to early warning signs being missed. Dogs that are not treated early in their illness can easily become too sick to be saved, even with intensive care. This is one of the dog illnesses that every pet owner should know about so that they can be certain to take their dog to the vet right away if necessary.
If you want to learn more about the symptoms of dog Parvovirus and you also want to know how to protect your pet from this potentially deadly illness, you want to read on.
What Are the Symptoms of Parvovirus?
Dogs with Parvo usually display the same set of symptoms. In older dogs, the symptoms might be milder for the first twelve hours of infection, but in puppies, symptoms are usually severe right away. You will want to be sure that you take any of these symptoms very seriously and take your dog to the veterinarian even if they are not experiencing all of the possible Parvo symptoms.
The common symptoms of Parvo are:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Low body temperature
- Severe vomiting and diarrhea
- Blood in the vomit or diarrhea
- Damage to immune system and intestines
- Septic shock
During the early hours of infection, lethargy and lack of appetite are the most common symptoms. Vomiting and diarrhea usually follow shortly after. Shock and dehydration, as well as low body temperature, usually appear after the first six to twelve hours of illness.
Sadly, once your dog has begun to display low body temperature, vomiting, diarrhea, and bloating, it might be too late. Most dogs do not survive the first 48 hours of this illness without intensive veterinary care. This is one of the illnesses that is most often mistaken for being a mild stomach upset related to eating the wrong thing, which is why being aware of all the Parvo symptoms is so important.
How Can I Prevent Parvovirus?
There are many options to help protect your dog from Parvovirus.
There is a Parvovirus vaccine, and puppies can be given this vaccine at 14 to 16 weeks of age. This is a vaccine that needs to be given in a series, and one single dose of the vaccine will not offer full protection. Older dogs will need to be vaccinated when they are going to be exposed to other dogs or if they are going to be kenneled or kept at a vet clinic while you are away.
Parvovirus can also be prevented through good hygiene. If you breed dogs, you will need to make sure that you do not take the puppies or other dogs in the home to places where exposure could happen. Until the puppies are fully protected, they will be at risk of exposure and illness if they come into contact with other dogs. Most dog boarding kennels and dog daycare locations will require that all dogs be current on their Parvovirus vaccine to prevent the spread of this illness through dog communities.
Pick Up After Your Dog
Make sure that you clean up fecal waste on your own property regularly and that you do not allow your dog to come into contact with the waste of unknown dogs at the park or in a public place. Some dogs do not develop full immunity despite being fully vaccinated and can still be at risk of contracting this illness. Show dogs, therapy dogs, and dogs that are kenneled frequently are going to be more at risk than dogs that live at home and are not exposed to other animals frequently.
Treatment of Parvovirus
If your dog contracts Parvovirus, your veterinarian will put them right into isolation and provide intensive care. Your dog will be given intravenous fluids to help combat the severe dehydration associated with this illness, and they might be given anti-nausea meds to help prevent vomiting.
Dogs with Parvovirus will be kept warm and be offered electrolyte and protein replacement therapy as well. Care must be taken when interacting with a dog that has Parvovirus due to the highly communicable nature of this illness. This means that you will likely not be able to see your dog until they have stopped displaying symptoms and has been cleared to leave quarantine.
Partner with Your Vet
This is a very expensive illness to treat, and many dogs pass away in despite the efforts of veterinarians. The sooner that your dog gets care, the more likely they are to recover fully. Some dogs will have lasting digestive issues related to having been ill, and there are other dogs that display ongoing issues with allergies and sensitives due to a damaged immune system. Make sure that you talk with your vet about the cost of the treatment that your dog will need before you embark on a treatment protocol.
Parvovirus Can be Treated if Caught Early
Parvovirus can be treated if you notice the symptoms of this illness soon enough. You can also prevent Parvovirus infection by being sure to vaccinate your pets and keep puppies from being exposed to dogs that might be carriers. Prevention is always a better option than treatment, so making sure that your dog does not contract Parvovirus is always the best course of action.
Make sure that all of the dogs in your home are current on their Parvo vaccines if you like to go to the dog park or are going to be sending your dog to a kennel while you are away on vacation. It is very hard to control the spread of Parvovirus once a dog has become sick, so being responsible about giving this vaccine is critical to the population of dogs that could be exposed if yours becomes sick.