Among dog people, the word “parvo” is so scary that it’s a bit like the boogeyman parvo is a highly contagious disease that primarily affects puppies but can also be transmitted to dogs. Parvo is so scary because it is extremely easy to spread and can often be fatal. Unfortunately, one side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is that parvo cases have increased in communities across the country
What is Parvo?
Dr. Robertson of NorthStar VETS stated that “Canine Parvovirus (CPV-2 or” Parvo “) is a highly contagious virus that is specific to dogs. The virus is excreted in extremely high numbers in the faeces of infected animals. Hence, it can be found in most environments. ”Since Parvo is transmitted through direct contact between infected dogs or indirect contact with objects previously touched by an infected dog, it is very easy for the disease to be transmitted between dogs. Parvo is a gastrointestinal disease and the parvo virus is generally present in the feces of infected dogs and puppies 4-5 days after exposure, before clinical signs develop. Puppies with parvo are contagious during their illness and for ten days after a full recovery. This means that even a dog that appears healthy can transmit Parvo to other dogs and puppies.
Parvo Risk in Dogs
Young puppies are generally at the greatest risk of developing parvo. Dr. Robertson explains, “Parvovirus is a disease that occurs primarily in puppies under 20 weeks of age; However, any unvaccinated, undervaccinated or immunocompromised dog can be at risk. ”Puppies are particularly susceptible to Parvo because their immune systems are still developing and because young puppies cannot be fully vaccinated. Although dogs of any breed or mix of breeds can suffer parvo, the Merck Veterinary Manual also notes that Rottweilers, Dobermans, American Pit Bull Terriers, English Springer Spaniels, and German Shepherds are particularly susceptible to the disease.
When bringing home a new puppy, your veterinarian, breeder, or animal shelter will likely warn you not to take your puppy to public places where other dogs have been until they are fully vaccinated. The risk of parvo infection is a primary reason for this warning. “They cannot complete their vaccination series until they are 16 weeks old, which puts these young pups at the greatest risk,” warned Dr. Robertson. Besides not being fully vaccinated, Dr. Spencer, medical director of the Goodheart Animal Health Center in Denver, states that “Puppies also tend to put everything in their mouths and their immune systems are not mature so they are more likely”. to get the disease. “
Effects of COVID-19 on Parvo
Although Parvo has nothing to do medically with COVID-19, Parvo cases in the US have been increasing since the pandemic began. “There has been an increase in the adoption and purchase of puppies (affectionately known as ‘COVID puppies’). The pandemic also affected the number of cases and availability of appointments at veterinary clinics across the country, making it difficult for new owners to get appointments on time, ”explained Dr. Robertson. Unfortunately, it was this surge in adopted puppies and the difficulty of getting vet appointments to schedule vaccinations that are believed to have played a significant role in the increase in parvo cases in 2020 from each other, dogs and puppies, in fact, too be more at risk. With so many new pet adoptions during COVID, we have had many “inoculated” animals out there. In addition, pet owners were out with their dogs much more than ever, as there wasn’t much to do during the pandemic. ”
Preventing parvo is key to keeping your puppy or dog safe. Although puppies are most at risk of contracting parvo, Dr. Spencer “Any unvaccinated dog is susceptible”. The most important way to keep your dog safe from the development of Parvo is to make sure they are fully vaccinated as a puppy and that you keep your dog’s vaccinations updated into adulthood. “The Parvo vaccine is extremely effective, but your puppy must have the full set to be protected,” advises Dr. Spencer.
Whenever you bring a new puppy home, be sure to get a copy of the vaccination card from your breeder or emergency medical service / animal shelter. Be aware that although your puppy has received some vaccines, it will likely need more in just a few weeks and that your puppy’s safety will require close adherence to this vaccination schedule. “Puppies can start vaccinating at 6 weeks of age. The vaccination schedule should continue every 2-4 weeks until the puppy is at least 16 weeks old according to AAHA vaccination guidelines. Adult dogs should also be vaccinated at 1 year of age and then every 1 or 3 years depending on the vaccine your veterinarian uses, “explained Dr. Robertson.
Dogs and puppies that become infected with parvo get very sick. “The virus works by attacking rapidly dividing cells. The intestinal lining and bone marrow are most commonly affected. Dogs often develop severe and often bloody diarrhea and vomiting. The resulting severe dehydration quickly becomes life threatening. Damage to the bone marrow causes very low levels of white blood cells, which increases the risk of secondary infections and sepsis, ”said Dr. Robertson. First signs to look out for are lethargic behavior, refusal to eat, vomiting, and diarrhea. See a veterinarian immediately if your puppy gets sick or if you think your dog or puppy has been exposed to parvo.
Immediate treatment for parvo is imperative if a dog or puppy is going to survive. “There is no cure for parvoviruses. Treatment includes aggressive supportive treatment while the virus takes its course. These include intravenous fluids to treat and prevent dehydration, antibiotics to prevent sepsis, and anti-vomiting medication to reduce persistent fluid loss, ”advises Dr. Robertson. Dogs and puppies that become infected with parvo are extremely sick and usually need to be hospitalized for a period of time. “Puppies can survive if treated appropriately, but that could mean a week in the hospital on IV fluids and even then some won’t make it,” said Dr. Spencer carefully. Treatment for parvo is extensive and can become expensive with long hospital stays, but Dr. Robertson notes that, in his experience, the “recovery rate in dogs given early and appropriate treatment is approximately 80%.”
Socialization vs. Security
Unfortunately, one of Parvo’s challenges is how easily it spreads and how long areas can remain infectious. “Parvo can live in the environment for a long time (one year). Suppose a dog had Parvo and was walking your street 6 months ago. Today your puppy ran in the same area and licked the floor or his feet when he got home. Voila! – Parvo exposure, “warned Dr. Spencer.
When you get a new puppy, you’ll want to take him out for training, socialization, and fun together, but especially until your puppy is fully vaccinated, it is important to be careful. Dr. Spencer advises, “Remember to balance your pet’s sociability at a young age with keeping them healthy. They still have to learn to walk on a leash and hear creepy noises in the neighborhood if they are not fully vaccinated. ”To do this, Dr. Spencer people with new puppies, “find a less traveled area to do this – please don’t bring them to the park!” The risk of parvo is significant, so it can be a difficult balance to find pups that are not fully vaccinated are to keep safe while maintaining adequate socialization with new sounds, sights, and sounds. If you are taking your new puppy to a puppy kindergarten-style training course, ask the trainer beforehand what cleaning / disinfecting protocols will apply to the facility before and after each course and discuss this with your veterinarian before attending.