The 411 On Canine Parvo: Understanding, Preventing, And Treating This Serious Virus

Bringing a dog into your home and family's life can be an exciting experience, but it will require a great deal of patience, effort, and compassion. From potty training your new puppy to the various financial responsibilities of feeding and medical care, it is easy to see how you may become overwhelmed. However, proper understanding of common medical conditions may reduce the stress of having a new puppy in your home. Parvovirus is a common disorder that affects dogs less than a year old, but you may not be familiar with how this life-threatening disease harms your puppy. Using this guide, you will understand parvovirus and learn the best preventative and treatment options to keep your puppy healthy.

The 411 on Parvovirus

Parvovirus is a contagious disease that attacks the cells of your dog's body. In most cases, the virus attacks the intestinal tract, but it can also affect your dog's white blood cells and cardiovascular system.

Also known as parvo, the virus can be transmitted from animals, people, or anything that comes in contact with the feces of an infected dog.

Symptoms of parvo vary from dog to dog. However, most will experience the following:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Abdominal Bloating
  • Fever or Low Body Temperature
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal Pain

Without immediately addressing these signs, your puppy may become dehydrated, which can damage their digestive, cardiovascular, and immune system. Parvovirus can lead to death within 24 to 48 hours after showing these first symptoms of the condition. Due to this disease causing serious medical issues so quickly, emergency veterinary care is essential. If your puppy is exhibiting any of these symptoms, immediately bring them to an emergency pet clinic for treatment.

Preventing Parvovirus

Puppies should receive proper vaccinations between 6 and 16 weeks of age to prevent parvovirus, but yearly booster shots are also necessary to ensure they remain healthy. Of course, your puppy's veterinarian will design a custom vaccination schedule suited to their age. Fortunately, other tips can help reduce the risk of your puppy developing parvo.

Since the virus is contagious, limit your puppy's contact with unvaccinated dogs. Use precaution when visiting dog parks, groomers, animal hospitals, pet stores, and even flea markets with your puppy. If necessary, pick your puppy up and carry them around these environments to prevent their contact with other dogs. In addition, do not allow your puppy to drink or eat from public bowls.

If you work around other dogs, make sure to change your clothes and wash your hands before interacting with your puppy. This will decrease the risk of exposing your puppy to the parvovirus.

Treatment Options

If your puppy is displaying one or more of the symptoms of parvovirus, bring them to the veterinary hospital immediately. Your puppy's vet will first administer fluids intravenously to treat dehydration. These fluids will balance out your puppy's electrolytes to reduce nausea and vomiting.

Your puppy will also receive antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications through the IV. These medications will prevent and treat septicemia, which causes bacteria from the intestinal tract to infect the blood. Also known as blood poisoning, septicemia is often the cause of death in dogs with parvovirus.

Aggressive care of parvo is imperative to save your puppy's life, but the cost of in-hospital treatments can be alarming. Thankfully, many veterinarians are offering at-home medications to treat your puppy's parvovirus. Outpatient treatments allow you to save a great deal of money, but they are not always the most effective option. Ask the veterinarian if outpatient treatment is a feasible option for your puppy's virus.

Watching your puppy suffer with parvovirus is challenging, but treatment is possible. Using this guide and the help of a veterinarian, you will understand the disease and learn the best options to prevent and treat this life-threatening condition.  

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Choosing a Veterinarian to Care for Your Pets

It can be tough to know exactly what your pet is feeling, especially when they are displaying strange behaviors that aren’t typical of their personality. Finding a reliable veterinarian to help you care for your pets is essential, because they can help you put the puzzle pieces together and figure out what a pet might be going through when you can’t figure it out yourself. An experienced veterinarian will work to rule out all possible health problems, and if successful, they should be able to provide you with the support and guidance you need to find a solution. For more information about what to look for in a qualified veterinarian and how they can best help you provide optimal care for your pets, browse the pages on this blog and check back often for updates!