ParvovirusWhy are we talking about parvovirus right now?  The answer is because parvovirus has been making the rounds in San Antonio for the last month or so in much higher numbers than we usually see.  We don’t really want to test your knowledge of parvovirus but we do want to make sure that you are well educated about it so you can protect your dogs.  It is all about what you know about parvovirus.

What Exactly is Canine Parvovirus?

Canine Parvovirus, often just called parvo, is a highly contagious viral disease that can be fatal.  This virus attacks the intestinal tract of dogs and puppies causing vomiting and diarrhea.  Dogs stop eating and become at high risk for dehydration making hospitalization necessary.

How Do Dogs Catch Parvovirus

Parvo is spread through the feces or vomit of the infected dog.  Parvo lives in the environment for a very long time and can be transmitted via contact with any surface containing the virus from the infected dog.  This means that we can bring parvovirus into our homes on our shoes, hands, and inanimate objects like food bowls, or toys.

What Are Symptoms of Parvo?

Dogs typically have symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea (which frequently turns to bloody diarrhea.)  They stop eating and become very lethargic.  Since this is a virus, there is no quick fix cure.  The best treatment is hospitalization with aggressive supportive care.  Remember, when your puppy is vomiting he cannot get medication or nourishment by mouth so hospitalization is necessary for this reason.

Why Is Parvo So Prevalent Right Now?

Once a dog has parvo he deposits the virus into the ground when he defecates.  Once in the ground it can live for years.  When we experience heavy rain or flooding (like we did this year) the virus surfaces and we see a resurgence of infected dogs who then begin to spread the disease to other unprotected dogs.

How Can We Protect Our Dogs?

Protecting your dog is as simple as getting a vaccine or two.  If your dog or puppy has never had a vaccine, then he will need the initial vaccine and a booster.  If he is under 4 months of age he may need the initial vaccine and more than one booster.  Your veterinarian can advise you what your puppy may need and you can find out more about our Comprehensive Wellness Care by visiting our website.

In order to protect your dogs when they are in the process of obtaining their vaccines, you should remember to try to limit their activity to areas where exposure may have occurred.  How do you know if an area is contaminated?  That is the point, you don’t.  Visiting places where vaccine control is in effect like boarding facilities, doggie play care and training classes is a much safer option than public areas where anyone can bring their dog regardless of vaccines status.

What About Rescue Dogs?

If you are bringing a dog with unknown vaccine status into your home, the best thing you can do is to make sure that your dogs are current on their vaccines.  Also keep your dog separated from the rescue dog during the first 10-14 days if either one or both is/are unvaccinated.

Is My Cat In Danger of Catching Parvo?

No, cats are not in danger of catching parvovirus.  Parvovirus is specific to dogs and cannot be transmitted to dogs or people.  For more information about canine parvovirus visit the American Veterinary Medical Association website.