There is nothing more precious than a Labrador puppy. But with puppies come the sometimes worrisome health conditions. Puppies are susceptible to more health problems because their immune systems aren’t mature. Most puppies can fight back on illness fairly easily, but Parvovirus (Parvo) is extremely dangerous to puppies and can sometimes be fatal. This is why it needs to be taken very seriously and discussed more with new dog owners. Here’s everything you need to know about Parvovirus in dogs and puppies:
Parvovirus is an extremely contagious disease in dogs that attacks the cells surrounding their small intestine. It is caused by the strains CPV-2a, CPV-2b, and CPV-2c. Parvo prevents the small intestine from working properly (i.e. absorbing nutrients), which can be very problematic if left untreated. The small intestine can begin to break down from bacterium and cause widespread infection throughout a dog’s body.
Parvovirus is often contracted and spread from dogs sniffing and/or eating feces. Parvovirus particles can live in a dog’s poop until 3-6 weeks after recovery and infect an unvaccinated dog easily. Parvo can also be spread by interaction with infected animals (i.e. other dogs, foxes, raccoons, skunks, etc.) or an infected object (i.e. a water bowl).
Parvo can be seen in all dogs, but puppies less than 4 months old are the most at risk due to their newness to the world of vaccinations. Unvaccinated dogs have a 12.7 times more likely chance of being hospitalized with Parvovirus. This makes the need for vaccination crucial for prevention.
Some breeds are also more susceptible to Parvo such as Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Yorkshire Terriers, etc.
Symptom severity can depend on the dog, but most signs of infection appear 2-14 days after infection. Symptoms and signs include:
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, please take them to the vet ASAP as the disease could quickly turn deadly if left untreated for too long. It may also be necessary to call ahead to let your veterinarian know you suspect Parvovirus so they can quarantine space for your dog.
Once your dog is suspected to have Parvovirus, your vet will perform a test such as the Fecal ELISA Test or a blood test to determine their exact diagnosis and severity. The ELISA test is the most common test for Parvo in dogs and it requires testing your dog’s fecal matter with a color-changing chemical to determine traces of Parvo. A blood test will measure white blood cells. Since Parvo begins attacking a dog’s white blood cells and bone marrow, a low cell count will indicate the disease.
Once your dog is diagnosed, treatment can begin, and quickly! Some common treatments for Parvovirus include:
Most dogs (90%) with Parvovirus that don’t get treated will pass within 48-72 hours. Veterinarian care is extremely dire in this situation and Parvovirus is not recommended to be treated at home.
Parvovirus is preventable and avoidable. Protect against the disease by:
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